British Columbia’s Attorney General, David Eby, directed ICBC to study the feasibility of offering insurance discounts to drivers who agree to technological methods to disable their smartphones while driving. This measure is being considered to help prevent the epidemic of distracted driving, which is now a leading cause of vehicular accidents and death in the province, with smartphones playing a key role.
There is speculation that the action is also being taken after a leaked report warned that B.C. motorists will get hit with rate hikes up to 30 per cent over the next two years, unless something is done. And while potential financial implications are putting a good scare into everyone, there is something far more concerning about how distracted driving is impacting our communities. A recent study by Cohen Children’s Medical Center reported that texting while driving has surpassed drinking and driving as the leading cause of teenage deaths, and will become the single largest cause of overall teen mortality.
What is so troubling, is that the epidemic is entirely preventable and yet the problem continues to grow. As a parent, guardian, uncle, aunt, or anyone with a teenager in their lives, you may feel helpless when you hear these statistics. However, Park Insurance is here to lend a hand with advice on how you can help keep your young driver away from their mobile devices while operating a vehicle.
4 Realistic Ways to Keep Your Teen Away from Their Mobile Devices While Driving
1. Lead by Example
Kids don’t respond to the “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. It doesn’t work when it comes to drinking, smoking, and other habits that you don’t want them to pick up, especially when you consider that teens are quicker than anyone to call out what they deem to be hypocrisy. Simply put, never text, call, or even use the hands-free phone functions while driving with your child and/or teen in the car (or any time for that matter). You must show them that a vehicle is no place to use a mobile device while driving. Of course, turning the phone off completely may not be realistic if you need to be in touch with another parent (etc.) at all times of the day. If communication needs to be made on the road, pull over, park, and return the call/text from a safe place. You must lead by example, or they too will adopt the same habits.
2. Show Them the Statistics
Your kids may roll their eyes when you tell them about the statistics, so show them visuals, too. Their eyes will eventually return to normal position, at which point you can post this infographic on distracted driving on the refrigerator door and anywhere else they frequent often. Set-up Google alerts for all of your family email accounts, so that any news about “texting while driving” accidents (keywords to use in the email alert) are delivered right into everyone’s inbox so that you can discuss at an appropriate time. Your kids won’t be into this, but it will keep the topic at the forefront, and that may make the difference the next time they are tempted to respond to an alert while driving.
3. There’s an App for That
More impactful measures may need to be taken. This is especially true if your teen just earned their license and/or has an issue with excessive smartphone use (i.e., can’t put the phone down while at the dinner table). Technology exists that will disable mobile devices while operating a vehicle. Some systems involve the combined efforts of hardware (placed in the car) and a smartphone app. When the enabled device (your kid’s phone) enters the vehicle, the system recognizes it, and shuts down the ability of the smartphone to text, email, navigate the web, take selfies, post to social media, and more. The only function that will exist, is the “call 911” feature.
Apps available on the current market vary in capability. One that has been featured by Consumer Reports and CNN is CellControl, an app with a monthly subscription service. However, there are free to low cost apps that you can have downloaded to your teen’s mobile device to get started.
4. Have a Heart-to-Heart Conversation with Them, Often
In the end, there is nothing quite like a good heart-to-heart conversation on the matter. Don’t lecture them, but sit with them over a hot chocolate, latte, or a bowl of popcorn prior to family movie night. Let them know how much you love them and how important it is to the whole family that they take this important safety measure to heart. After the initial discussion, let them know that you trust them to do the right thing. That being said, this is not one of those conversations to have once and walk away. You will need to make the topic a current event in your household (as per the news alerts addressed in item #2 above) and eventually it will become habitual for your child to ignore their smartphone while they are driving.
Wishing you and your family safe travels on the road!