OK, Parents- Before You Lecture Your Teen, Put Away Your Phone!

By Ryan Hurlbert on September 25th, 2010

I was driving up the freeway, cruise control set at 70 miles per hour (the posted speed limit, thank you) and I could see her coming up fast…again. For most of the last hour, a young lady in a Honda kept blasting past us, then suddenly slowing and falling back, than roaring past us again. On one such sortie, my son yelled from the back seat, "Dad! She's TEXTING!"

That explained her driving behavior, which at best was irritating and at worst could have been deadly. As much as we like to paint the teenagers of America as the scourge of the highways for texting behind the wheel, a new Pew Research Study has found that adults are also guilty, and in greater numbers than teens; 49 percent of texting adults admitted to texting behind the wheel, while only 34 percent of teens said they texted while driving. Forty-four percent of all adults and 40 percent of teens say they have been in a car when the driver used the cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger. Apparently, both groups scare their passengers equally.

There ought to be a law

As of July 2010, eight states (OR, WA, CA, CT, MD, NY, NJ, DE) and Washington, DC prohibit using a hand-held cell phone while driving, and in all states but Maryland it is a primary offense. Meaning that you can be stopped and ticketed solely for the cell phone violation. Thirty states prohibit texting behind the wheel.

But can they chew gum at the same time?

The Pew Research study also revealed that 14 percent of American adults have been so engrossed in texting that they bumped into another person or object when texting while walking. Clearly it takes more than "free hands" to talk or text when in motion. Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving takes your mind away from the road, traffic and impairs your ability to avoid your fellow texting travelers.

No claims and no tickets are more likely to result in cheaper auto insurance rates. Texting or talking on a cell phone while driving increases your chances of being in an accident and filing a claim. Don't take chances. Make travel time "me time" and put down the phone. Listen to the stereo. Sing, preferably with the windows up, of course. If you must use your phone, use a hands-free device and keep the conversation short. Pull off the road for longer calls or to take notes. Society and your auto insurance company will thank you.

Oh, and if you find yourself passing the same car over and over, you might want to lock your phone in the trunk.

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