Texting and Driving: It’s Not Just Teens

Here’s a frightening stat: Teenagers are 26 times more likely to send text messages while driving than their parents expect. They read or send a text at least once every time they drive.

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised. I mean, kids feel invincible and they’re doing all kinds of stuff we parents aren’t privy too. But this is different somehow. My oldest is 16 and will soon get behind the wheel. And I’m scared silly about what could happen there.

Get this. 11 teens die while texting each year.

Wait, it gets worse.

Texting in a car is 6 times more dangerous than driving drunk. Texting makes you four times more likely to cause a crash. In 2011, 23% of collisions involved cell phones.

Have I got your attention?

A full 75% of teens admit to texting while driving.

Brace yourself for the next one.

Almost 50% of adults admit to texting while driving and I am one of them.

I know none of us are perfect, that we parents make mistakes, but this is a biggie. I have been bad parent. I have set a terrible example. I have done the unthinkable and I haven’t even had the good sense to hide it.

My name is Randi, I am parent, and I text while I drive.

Here’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. I have done it while alone, I have done it with friends, and I have – gulp – done it with my very own precious cargo in the car, sitting right beside me. And it hasn’t been because someone was bleeding somewhere and I had no other choice. On the contrary, I’ve looked down at my screen to answer a quickie text or a funny tweet or to input a hockey game in my calendar.

I have taken risks – huge risks – and for what? Habit. Because it’s there. Because I can.

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite walking around with my wine glass saying Do As I Say, Not As I Do but I’m an adult so I have a different set of choices. But that logic doesn’t apply to criminal, unsafe behavior, and thinking nothing of engaging in it in front of kids, who, let’s face it, can’t help but Do As I Do. I cannot continue down this path, prosthelytizing to my kids about the dangers of risky behavior while doing so myself, as if I am above the law.

So I am sobering up – right now. This is one situation where I’d rather my kids learn from my mistakes and not their own so they can do as I do before it’s too late.

How did I get here anyway? It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, I didn’t even know how to text or tweet or check Facebook and out of nowhere, I can’t live three minutes without my cell phone. I almost can’t remember before kids, when I didn’t have one.

My phone is still exciting and new and I pride myself on being able to answer someone in a mere second. Watch this! I can hold the phone with a hand that still holds the wheel. I can just fire one off at a stop light. Or a stop sign. My eyes barely leave the road. Barely.

But they do.

And while I put the danger out of my mind, I know that in that fraction of time, a life could end.

But watching me drive like an ‘expert’ on my phone, as if it’s easy, normal, every day behavior, do my kids know this? No way.

Unlike me, my children have grown up texting. To them, texting is talking. If the phone feels indispensable to me, imagine what it is to them – an addiction, an arm, a way of life. They text while talking to friends, while at parties, while in class. They text so fast, I hardly even notice it’s happening. My greatest fear is that as they drive, neither will they.

I can only hope that in today’s driving lessons, the phone is the first order of business. Right after drinking/driving. Right before the seatbelt. As in: the phone gets locked in the glove compartment before you strap in. As in: texting behind the wheel is illegal – even if 10 States have yet to ban it. As in: it’s the same as drinking and driving.

It’s that dangerous, everyone. It’s that wrong. Tell your partner, tell your friends, tell your kids.

My name is Randi and I am a parent. I have a responsibility to drive the drive. Safety has to start with me.

 

 

About randi

Randi Chapnik Myers & Mara Shapiro don't get fazed by their teens. At least they try not to.

Comments

  1. Guilty as charged. Where do we sign up for the 12-step program. If only my glove compartment locked. Time to throw it in the back seat.

  2. Cindy @cincoencasa says:

    I`ve done it too 🙁 and the one time that I went to answer a text coming in with my 19yr old daughter in the car she said `Are you actually going to answer that???!!! You`re kidding me, right?! Gimme your phone, Mom`
    Well, she told me.
    Now I have to remind her that if she`s waiting to be picked up at the bus stop to not repeatedly call and/or text me to say `Where are you?` because I will be there, but I will not answer those texts while I`m driving.

    • I love that the teen had more sense than the mom in that instance! And you’re right. If they know we are not on the line available for texting 24/7 they may take a cue from us.

  3. I ask my teen to operate my cell for me while I’m driving. She’s my very own personal assistant when I’m behind the wheel. 🙂

  4. Lily Chapnik says:

    I never let my mum or dad text when they’re driving in the car with me. I say, “it DOES involve me because I am a passenger in the car. If you’re going to text I will figure out the appropriate bus route.”

    • Way to go. It ABSOLUTELY has everything to do with you. This is not just about ourselves as drivers. We are putting our passengers in danger as well as everyone else on the road.

  5. Texting while driving terrifies and angers me to no end. I can honestly say that I don’t do it. I also make a point of letting my kids see me ignore the ping sounds coming from my phone as I drive, letting me know there’s a message waiting for me. Sometimes, I’ll hand my phone to one of them to read and say, “I can’t look at this, tell me what it says.”
    You can usually tell when the driver in the car ahead of you is texting, because they tend to be driving a little slower or have their heads looking down and I always have to fight the temptation to open my window and yell out, “PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE, YOU IDIOT!”

    We KNOW it’s dangerous, we KNOW it kills people, but so many people STILL do it. WHAT is so damn important??

    Thanks for writing this Randi! :o)

    • Believe it or not, I honk people who do it. And I’m guilty, too. Talk about hypocritical. Thanks so much for posting and letting us know there are parents out there who are doing their job in the car.

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