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How can I get the “don't text and drive" message through to my teen?

Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP


​You are not alone. Studies show that almost half of all teen drivers have texted while driving and a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive.

  • Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death in teenagers.
  • Text messaging behind the wheel increases the risk of a crash or a near crash by 23 times, and is far more dangerous than talking on a cell phone while driving.

Research on Effective Ways to Reach Teens:

Currently, studies are being done to determine the most effective way to get teens to stop texting and driving. Some states are passing legislation banning mobile devices, and many graduated drivers licenses already have an electronic device component in them. 

What Parents Can Do:

As a parent, you can develop a teen driving contract with your new driver. This gives you the opportunity to clearly lay out rules and expectations of your new driver, and tie the rules to consequences and privileges. Most importantly, you need to model safe driving behavior to your children of any age. Point out distractions, even to young children, such as changing the radio station, toys flying around the car, yelling, and fighting. 

We talk a lot about cell phones and distracted driving to our young boys, hoping that the constant repetition of the message will have an effect when they become teen drivers.

Additional Information from

Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP

​Sarah Denny, MD, FAAP, works as an attending physician in the Section of Emergency Medicine at Nationwide Children's Hospital and as an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University School of Medicine. She is Co-Chair of the Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention for the Ohio Chapter of the AAP  and serves on the Executive Committee for the Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention for the AAP. Dr. Denny's specific areas of interest include bike helmet awareness, safe sleep and legislative advocacy.She is the mom of three energetic little boys.​​

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The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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