I read an interesting article the other day. According to a study commissioned by Bridgestone Americas, the majority of parents are in complete denial about the behavior of their teenage children behind the wheel. This survey showed that only “39 percent of parents think their teen driver talks on the phone while driving, yet half of all young drivers admit to doing so.”
The same expectations were true for texting and driving, as well as being distracted by socializing with other passengers in the car. What I really liked about this article, however, is how it went on to suggest that teen drivers may be modeling their driving habits after that of their parents.
For example, the survey showed “nearly all parents claim that participating in distracted behaviors while driving is unacceptable, yet 94 percent of parents admit to driving distracted anyway.” What parents are not driving distracted? How many times have you seen your own mother drive with one knee on the wheel while bent backwards disciplining children, wiping a nose and fixing a binky at the same time? The art of mobile parenting dates back to the invention of the automobile, but maybe it’s time we as parents began to set a better example.
With the invention of smartphones, navigating the roads has become even more perilous than ever. We can’t expect our kids to ignore texts from their friends, or not view that latest Snapchat when they see us checking email and making calls in the car ourselves every day.
So what can we do? Try springing for a bluetooth set, or use the voice activation feature on your phone while on the road. Or if you have a child old enough to work a smartphone, (anyone over the age of 2 seems to understand them better than I do) have them read emails aloud to you or respond to important texts while you keep your hands on the wheel. Setting an example really is an important part of parenting; “Do what I say, not what I do,” isn’t nearly as effective a teaching tool as we might hope.