Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Talking To Teenage Girls About Aggressive Driving

A new Allstate Foundation survey reports an increase in the aggressive driving among teenage girls.  82% of teens use cell phones when they drive and over 49% report that texting is a distraction for them.  The number of girls who make poor driving choices is increasing and has surpassed that of boys.  Girls are more likely to speed more than 10 mph over the limit and less likely to confront peers who exhibit risky driving.

Other interesting findings about teen girls:
    16% admit that they are aggressive drivers
    51% plan to continue using cell phones while driving
    84% will adjust music during driving

Why are girls more aggressive drivers now? We expect boys to take riskier behaviors such as racing, stunts and driving in dangerous conditions.  Girls are more apt to engage in non-driving behaviors (talking/texting on cell phones, chatting with passengers, checking their appearance in the mirror, reading) which distract them from the road.

This presents an interesting topic for parents to address with current and future teenage drivers.  Many overstressed parents are relieved when teens can drive themselves to school and activities, and make trips on behalf of the entire household.  At the same time, parents worry about the impact of decisions their teen makes while driving.  So as a concerned parent, how do you talk to your teen about his/her driving habits?
Have conversations about the dangers of driving distractions
Cell phones, cd/mp3 players, mirrors can all cause enough distraction to have an accident.  Suggest that your teen turns their phone off or place it in the glove box or trunk before getting into the car.  Be adamant about the fact that their safety and the safety of others is more important than missing a call or text.  Also, encourage them to check mirrors and adjust music before they start the car.  One resource to use as a family is Oprah Winfrey's No Phone Zone pledge

Become aware of your teenagers driving skills
The thought of riding in a car with a teenager sends most adults into a panic!  But one way to measure the driving habits of your teen is to experience it first-hand.  During the ride, take note of the positive things they do as well as any areas in need of improvement.  Discuss these at a later date, DO NOT yell, criticize, or panic while they are driving.

Be a driving role model
As a parent, you are a major influence for your teens.  What you do is more important than what you say.  Therefore, it is important to watch your own driving behavior(s).  Practicing safe driving will encourage your teen to do the same.