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Texting and Driving: A Killing Combination

Make the rules long before your kids get behind the wheel.

Teens love to text. They'll send messages any time and anywhere. But if they text from behind the wheel of a car, the results could be deadly.

Studies show that texting and driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving. If you text while behind the wheel, you're 23 times more likely to crash. Although many states have laws making it illegal to text while driving, teens (and many parents) still do it, even though they know it's dangerous. When teens are driving, any activity besides keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel -- like emailing, downloading music, taking pictures –- is a huge no no.

So how can you make sure your teen is phone-free while behind the wheel?

  • Make it non-negotiable. Teens need to understand that keys and phones simply do not mix. Let them know that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
  • Set clear rules. Tell your teens to turn off their phones and put them in the glove box before they start the car. If you're not sure your teen has the will power to do this consistently, consider using apps that specifically restrict texting while driving.
  • Download an app that disables the phone when you're driving. If you don't trust yourself, get an app that will keep you honest.
  • Set an example. Resist the impulse to check your own phone while in traffic. Your kids are watching what you do. And chances are, they'll copy your behavior.

There's no denying that texting is here to stay. So managing when and where your kids do use their phones is critical -- not just for their development, but for their safety as well.

Caroline Knorr
Caroline is Common Sense Media's former parenting editor. She has many years of editorial and creative marketing writing experience and has held senior-level positions at, Walmart stores, Cnet, and Bay Area Parent magazine. She specializes in translating complex information into bite-sized chunks to help families make informed choices about what their kids watch, play, read, and do.