Drivers are faced with a growing number of potential distractions behind the wheel – anything from pets, to passengers, phones, text messaging, infotainment systems and much more. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes thousands of crash-related deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year to distractions1. There are three main types of distractions:

  • 1. Visual – removes a driver’s eyes off the road
  • 2. Manual – removes a driver’s hands off the steering wheel
  • 3. Cognitive – removes a driver’s mind off the driving task

Although distracted driving is an issue among all ages of drivers, teens have an even greater risk when coupled with their lack of driving experience. States with strong graduated driver licensing laws have reduced crashes involving teen drivers by up to 40 percent2. Many of these laws include provisions restricting the number of teen passengers and the use of electronic devices while driving for novice drivers.

Parents, here are some tips to drive home the message on distractions:
• Point out drivers who are doing things like talking on cell phones and explain why that is unsafe.

• Teach your teen that it’s okay to tell passengers, “Please don’t distract me while I’m driving.”

• Practice what you preach: pull over to use your cell phone or have your passenger answer it instead.

• Don’t change CDs or the radio or reach for a map. Pull over and explain the need to devote your full attention to the road.

For more tips, download Teen Drivers. Honest Talk. Real Solutions: A Handbook for Parents in English or Spanish.


  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  2. National Safety Council