Safety tips to help prevent teen distracted driving

While a new driver can be excited to gain additional freedom, parents often are more aware of the risks involving teen distracted driving.

When your child has newly obtained their driver’s license, handing over the keys can be anxiety inducing for parents. While a new driver can be excited to gain additional freedom and responsibilities, parents are often more aware of the risks of the road, especially when it comes to teen distracted driving.

What is distracted driving?

Distracted driving involves anything that takes a person’s attention away from driving. It can endanger a driver, their passengers and anyone else on the road. Common examples of distracted driving include talking on a cellphone, using a navigation system, eating while driving and texting while driving.

Sending or reading a text can take someone’s eyes off the road for about five seconds. When driving at speeds of 55 mph, that’s long enough to cover the distance of a football field without paying attention.

How to prevent teen distracted driving?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal crashes involving drivers ages 15 to-19 were more likely to be caused by distracted driving compared with all other age groups.

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There are four types of distracted driving that teens and parents should be able to recognize:

Visual: A visual distraction can be anything that takes your eyes off the road, such as texting, using a navigation system or applying makeup. To prevent visual distracted driving, keep your eyes on the road, pull over to read directions and put your phone in “do not disturb” mode.

Physical: A physical distraction is anything that takes one or both hands off of the steering wheel, such as eating, drinking, or searching for items in a car or purse. Preventing physical distracted driving involves keeping your phone out of reach, making all adjustments before driving and not reaching for items while behind the wheel.

Cognitive: A cognitive distraction is anything that diverts mental attention away from the road, such as phone calls, strong emotions, daydreaming or interacting with passengers. To prevent cognitive distracted driving, avoid phone calls (even if hands-free), stay focused on the road and keep your emotions in check.

Auditory: Any noises — such as music, podcasts or phone calls — that take your attention away from the road or potential hazards can be auditory distractions. Preventing auditory distracted driving involves turning down the stereo volume, listening for hazards and putting your phone on “do not disturb.”

Safe driving resources for families

Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness offers a safety course to help prevent teen distracted driving. The Checkpoints course is an evidence-based, interactive teen driving program for parents and new drivers ages 15 to 17 who have obtained a learner’s permit or driver’s license.

Checkpoints facilitates an open discussion between parents and teens to help manage risks associated with teen driving, such as risky behaviors, driving offenses and motor vehicle crashes. At the end of the course, a parent-teen driving agreement encouraged safe driving behaviors and can help prevent distracted driving.


Prevention and Wellness
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Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness

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(502) 629-7358

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