(editor’s note: We at HV Parent magazine hope parents with teens, or who know teens, will have them read this blog.  It’s an important message to teens from one of their own.)

Hello, I’m Chris, the summer editorial assistant at HV Parent. I also write for the website and was given an article to write on Texting while Driving. New York State recently passed a law increasing the fine to $150 (this is without the court charge) and three points on your license. Even as a teenager, and an avid text-fiend, I admit this is long overdue.

When I was younger and in the car with an older friend, I would be shaking in my seat when he sent a text, evidently he had decided that a miscellaneous girl was more important than my life, and his. I admit I  didn’t stop him from texting though; I was happy just to be in the car with the kid and wasn’t about to scold him.  But that makes me just as guilty. That’s something I think is important to tell your kids. If you’re in a car and the driver starts to text,  it’s your job to stop it!

It’s not enough to have your kid know not to do it because, like it or not, their lives will be in the hands of others.

I don’t expect a kid to scold an older friend, though; I would expect them to act like me. However, there is a way to prevent it without sounding like a nag. Tell your child just to offer to text for the kid. I do this now and ask my friends to text for me when I drive. This is a much more practical solution because it keeps the driver from texting and most important to your kid, doesn’t put the kid into an uncomfortable position. They won’t encounter any resistance either because texting while driving isn’t done for a cheap thrill, it is done because people feel the need to respond. Therefore, your kid is actually helping the driver instead of bothering them about their awful habit. Telling them to stop might not work because (I’m sure you know this by now) teenagers HATE being told what to do, yet if you ask them and are reasonable they might actually respond, you just have to watch out for that rebellious urge that kicks in when you yell at them or tell them not to do something. A simple “Hey, I’ll just answer that for you,” can help save lives.

Now when you’re driving alone and you get a text it’s quite simple, don’t answer it! I’m sure your kid has seen those commercials about the incomplete text that killed a car full of people, but what they usually watch on TV is probably more violent. We associate TV with violence and exaggerations making those realistic PSAs virtually meaningless. The important thing to do is to talk to your kids about it, sit them down and explain to them what a crash is like. The second you say some vague line used on commercials and preached to us in school, your kids will tune you out, that’s what I would have done. It’s important to make the dangers real to your kids, share a personal story of an accident (caused by texting or not) or maybe a friend’s story, just some way to drive home the reality of car crashes.

The new law doesn’t just apply to texting either, the fine is for “using handheld electronic devices while a vehicle is in motion” so that means no mid-drive iPod selections. That can be just as bad as texting, yet I’ve seen it done much more often, and a playlist of songs you like to hear while driving can fix that problem so easily.

One more thing I feel is important to mention is that in a crash, it’s not just you or the people in your car that get hurt. You might walk out with a few scrapes but the poor mother you hit could be seriously injured, or worse. Also, if something awful happens to you, then you’re hurting your parents, family, and friends as well. If you just get hurt it will take them a long time to recover, and your death, well they will never recover from that. So make your kids realize what driving a car means, what getting into a crash means, and how texting while driving is the dumbest way to ruin or maybe even end your life.

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