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Tips to Help Your Teen Avoid Distracted Driving

August 10, 2016

It’s summertime, and that means another wave of new teenage drivers hitting the roads. If you have a new driver at home, you naturally want to do all you can to ensure your child has all the knowledge and tools he/she needs to be smart and safe behind the wheel. Teenagers are eminently distractible, so helping them maintain focus while behind the wheel is essential. Use these tips to educate the new driver in your home as well as help all drivers in your family to remember to keep their eyes and minds on the road.


Think about any information you need or communicating you should do before heading out, and do it before you get behind the wheel.

Be sure of your route, or set your GPS to deliver voice instructions before you begin driving, so you won’t have to look anything up on the fly. If you want to give someone a heads up that you’ll be arriving soon, send that text before you turn the key in the ignition. If you’re traveling with a passenger, put them in charge of any communication or navigation that needs to be done while in route.


Plan to take care of your personal needs before you start on your way.

If possible, eat meals or snacks before you leave, and if you must eat and drive, choose foods and beverages that are easy to manage with one hand without making a mess. Never use drive time put the finishing touches on your appearance.


Make preparations to prevent other things in the vehicle from distracting you from driving.

Store your possessions so they don’t roll around and get in your way or tempt you to reach for them on the floor as you drive. Adjust your mirrors, and set your climate controls and stereo selections before you take off.

If you don’t have a passenger to communicate on your behalf, then put your phone away where you can’t see it, and turn off audio notifications (or silence it) so you won’t be tempted to check it on the road.

If you are driving with children or pets, make sure they are appropriately secured in the vehicle, and don’t allow them to take your attention away from safe driving. If you need to address an issue, find a safe place to pull over first.


Clear your mind, and avoid stressful interactions.

Distractions aren’t all external. It’s easy for any of us to get caught up in our own thoughts, causing our attention to wander from the here and now. When you’re driving, being fully present is critical so you can respond quickly to the ever-changing circumstances around you. If something is causing you worry or stress, take a few deep breaths before getting into the vehicle and focus your attention on the important task of driving.

On the same note, don’t let others disturb your focus. While it may be tempting to take advantage of a captive audience, drive time is not the time for heavy, emotionally charged conversations. If a passenger starts a conversation that pulls your attention away from driving, ask them to hold their thoughts until you arrive safely. If they refuse, find a safe place to pull over until you’re able to focus again.


Let technology help you.

There are lots of apps now available to help you keep your attention on the road, each offering slightly different features. Some, like LifeSaver and AT&T’s Drive Mode, prevent distractions by blocking certain communications functions when activated, while others, like Drive Alive and Drive Beehive also encourage safe driving practices by using rewards systems. Do some research to understand the differences among the apps currently available for your device, and choose the one you feel will be most effective.


Understand your local laws.

In Iowa, all drivers with a learner’s permit or intermediate license (which includes most teenage drivers) are prohibited from all cell phone use (including hands-free use) while driving. Make sure your teen understands that “driving” also includes being stopped at a red light. For all drivers, sending or viewing text messages is permissible only when “the motor vehicle is at a complete stop off the traveled portion of the roadway.”


Jones Insurance wishes you a safe summer and is here to help as your family’s auto insurance needs evolve. We are a locally owned, independent agency serving the Greater Des Moines area. Because we’re independent, we can help you compare a variety of carriers’ plans and choose the one that best fits your needs. Give us a call at 515-868-0040, or fill out our online quote form for a free, no-obligation quote.

August 10, 2016

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