When driving with friends, the music may go up but so do distractions. Rowdy passengers and even criticism from their peers take teens’ attention away from the road. A new study from Liberty Mutual Insurance found that more than one third (36%) of teens are distracted behind the wheel when their friends make fun of or criticize their driving. Despite this, 30% of teens admit to criticizing their friend’s driving when they’re in the backseat.
How can parents help their teens keep safety top of mind and not be distracted by their fellow passengers? Below are a few pointers from Dr. Gene Beresin, Liberty Mutual consultant and executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital:
- Avoid piling in: Friends can be distracting passengers. Speak with teens about how many friends they can drive with and remind them that distractions can come from inside the car too.
- Put the phone down: I encourage teens to put their phone in the glove box so it’s out of site and they aren’t tempted to glance at it while driving – even if their friend in the backseat just sent a Snapchat.
- Talk with teens. Parents should speak with their teens about safe driving practices beginning at a young age before the teen even starts driving. Liberty Mutual Insurance encourages parents and teens to use the Teen Driving.
- Liberty Mutual believes that parents have a tremendous opportunity to enhance their role in deterring unsafe driving behaviors among teens. When families build safe driving plans together it fosters effective, face-to-face communication, which leads to safer driving behaviors.
- For Parents/Guardians: Having a conversation with your new teen driver provides an opportunity for you to share your own driving experiences, your concerns about safety and your ideas for ground rules. Keep the agreement accessible so that you can update the rules together as your teen progresses as a driver.