teen driving a car
Parenting Tips, Teens

How To Train Your Teen Not To Text And Drive

Here in Arizona, we have the hands free cell phone law enacted. 

Financial penalties are very stiff, especially for teen drivers under the age of 18.

I know for those of you with driving teens, you have already been promoting this message, but unless you have a camera in your teen’s car, you have no idea what they do when they are alone in the car. Teens feel invincible!

It is a biological function of the growing teenage brain.

This is a necessary trait so that they may leave the comforts of childhood behind and prepare for adulthood.

They leave the comfort and safety of childhood and take the kinds of risks that teach them how to be independent and successful as they move into adulthood.

There are good risk-taking behaviors and bad risk-taking behaviors. 

Good risk-taking behaviors would be staying home alone, developing new passions and interests, doing things that are unfamiliar and maybe uncomfortable.

Bad risk-taking behaviors are driving and texting, smoking pot and drinking and driving, sexual experimentation and the list goes on. These are risks that they think they can handle because they are officially old enough in their minds.

Part of the problem is that they lead with their hearts and not with their brains.

The need to know what’s happening in the here and now and not miss out on some really really important news tidbits from their friends or their social scene overrides any fear of getting into a deadly traffic accident.

Most parents use this same old same ole lecture  “If I find out you’ve been texting and driving, you’re grounded and no more taking the car!” That oughta do it, you think, as you hand over the keys. 

Unfortunately, when your teen hears that chime signifying a text, all reason is out the window. And if truth be told, the same thing probably happens to you. Even though 99.9 percent of the time the text is nothing significant, there is that surge of excitement or anxiety that the information just relayed is somehow life-changing. As adults, hopefully, we do have some ability to delay gratification. Most teens don’t.

Lecturing about the ills of texting and driving are meaningless without a game plan that counters the fact that in most teens’ lives their phone is practically an extension of their bodies. The weight of the phone doesn’t even register.

 Teens have literally learned to navigate their world almost single-handedly (while the other hand texts).

Just like when your teens were little you have to repeat something again and again. Just like when you reminded them of their manners or learning their numbers and ABCs. You need to repeat whatever it is you say to your teen to remind them to be cellphone safe while driving.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Whenever you are in the car with your children, say out loud, “Hey honey. Can you shut off my phone, I don’t want to be distracted when I’m driving.” You want them to hear these words over and over again until it becomes a tape that lives in their brain, and becomes part of their unconscious association with phone and car. This is classical conditioning, and it works. (1)
  •  When your teen is within a year of getting a driver’s license, implement a no-cellphone use rule in the car. This pre-driving teen should be a front seat passenger (so you can minimize the cell sneaking). Have them put their phone in airplane mode so they won’t hear or see any tempting pop-up messages or chimes. This is important training. It not only reinforces the association of being in a car with being phone-free but also and equally as important, that shutting down doesn’t mean being shut-out. Truly they won’t be missing anything important. (2)
  • For the teens who are already driving, practice this strategy with them. Repeating the direction every time they leave the house: “Put your phone in airplane mode.” (3)

And finally, understand that your teen will not be happy with these new rules. They will yell, scream, do whatever they can to get you to back down. Stay strong. Your teens will not willingly go along for this ride. But there is no other way. Just giving the keys to your teen on the day they get their license with a “you better not” warning is as good as doing nothing. Changing behavior takes practice, and you must be their teacher. (4)

What is something that you do to discourage your teen from texting and driving and how is it going so far?

Take care until next time,

Kelli Signature


Kelli M. Riebesehl|Mom Blogger|Disclaimer: Hey there, friend! This article includes affiliate links. Please see Disclaimer above.

Welcome. I’m Kelli and I’m really glad to meet you. I’m an adoring wife to my soulmate and mother to four precious kiddos. I’m on a mission teaching others what I’ve learned so far in this crazy thing called life. I just love love love being a mommy and next, I'm crazy about blogging and it is my fondest wish to create that same sense of joy in all those who visit my site. I am here to teach others how to do a bunch of things related to family, faith, family fun, fabulous finds for home and family, and financial freedom through the art of blogging and creating digital products. Stick with me and I'll have you sitting pretty on top of your own domestic and blogging empire! Enjoy!:)

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