We’re not being harsh by pointing out that most teenagers have a hard time maintaining their attention. It’s simply that way for most of us as we go through our teen years.

Few things can monopolize your teen’s attention like a cell phone – and that’s bad news if your teenager is now driving.

Texas Cell Phone Driving Laws

As of 2017, drivers of all ages cannot legally use their cell phones to either send or read emails and text messages in Texas.  

Other laws regarding driving and cell phone use in the Lone Star State include:

  • A six-month ban on cell phone use while driving for those with learner’s permits 
  • Drivers younger than 18 aren’t allowed by law to use a cell phone for any reason while behind the wheel.
  • School bus drivers can’t use their cell phones when children are on board. 

As we discussed in a previous issue, the penalties for texting and driving in Texas are steep. The first offense will cost you $99 in fees. A repeat offense will cost you $200. If you’re involved in a car accident because of your texting, you could face a year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.   

Texas isn’t alone in making these cell phone restrictions. Other states have similar measures in place in response to the dangers of distracted driving, which is a serious problem.

In 2018 alone, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives specifically because of distracted driving. 

How to Prevent Your Teenager from Texting While Driving

With most teenagers, it can be difficult to get them to take your advice. However, their lives and the lives of others around them are dependent upon the message getting through. With that in mind, we hope these tips will at least help you begin the conversation with your teenager.

Have a serious conversation with your teenager

You shouldn’t assume your teenager already knows the dangers of texting and driving. Be sure to point out the results of a study that found that texting while driving forces the driver to take their eyes from the road for more than four seconds. Also, make sure they know the vehicle they’re driving weighs more than two tons and can inflict a lot of damage if safety precautions aren’t followed.

Set specific ground rules

Establish rules for driving such as requiring them to turn their cell phones off and place them in the glove compartment. To make sure your teen realizes the seriousness of what you’re saying, put consequences in place if your rules aren’t followed. For example, if you discover your teen has been texting while driving, take away their driving privileges for several weeks or months.

Install an app to prevent texting

There are several free apps that will automatically lock the cell phone when the phone is moving 10 mph or more. When a text comes through, an automated “unavailable while driving” response is generated. If you have an iPhone and don’t want to download an app, simply go into the “Settings” option on the cell phone and turn on the “Do Not Disturb” feature. Scrolling further down, you can select the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” option.
 

Set the example

Few things drive the message home like seeing it in action. You can do all the preaching you want about the dangers of texting while driving, but if you do it yourself, your words are pretty much useless. Make a point of letting them see you turn your cell phone off and putting it away before you turn the ignition.

If a text is so important to send, pull over

Reinforce the notion with your teen that if a text absolutely must be sent, they must pull over to a safe place, stop the vehicle, then send the text. If the message is not important enough to pull over for safety reasons, then it’s probably not important enough to risk their lives and the lives of others over it.

Be sure your teen knows the horrors that can come from texting while driving

While they may be difficult to watch, there are numerous videos online that show the devastation from texting while driving. Watch them with your teen. Make sure your teen realizes they are three times more likely to be involved in a crash if they’re texting while driving. 

Be aware of the times when you call your teen

Teen participants in a study confirmed that most of their cell phone conversations were with their parents. With that in mind, resist the temptation to call or text when you believe your teen may be behind the wheel. 

We understand that getting your teenager to realize and understand the consequences of “what can happen” is challenging – but it’s definitely a conversation worth having.