How can we stop young people from texting and driving?

Tomorrow at 9:06, we’re going to talk about distracted driving, especially among teenagers. Driving accidents are the leading cause of death for teens and drivers under 20 have the highest proportion of accidents involving distracted driving.

If you are a parent of a teen driver, do you think your child is texting and driving? Do you talk about distracted driving at home?

If you are a young driver who texts, why do you do it if you know it is unsafe?

While texting and driving is illegal, most of us are probably guilty of drinking coffee, changing the radio station or making a call while driving. See if you are good enough at multi-tasking to juggle those activities while on the road. Try this game from the New York Times or this one from the University of Minnesota.

Here’s a sad tale about distracted driving:

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Cathi Tristani-Kendra

    Driving is a privilege-not a right. If your teen is texting and driving, take away the car keys. Parents need to be the parent and do the right things, no matter how tough it is.

  • Stephanie Curtis

    Here’s a copy of the “Don’t Text and Drive Pledge.”

    You can print it up for your teen to sign.

  • Emily

    Agreed with first poster. If the teen doesn’t own the car and/or pay for their own insurance, take away the keys. If the teen doesn’t own the phone or pay for the plan, take away the phone.

  • Paul – Duluth, MN

    Children will always defy authority. This problem can be remedied by the suppliers taking responsibility. Parents need to restrict phone use, perhaps not allowing their child to have a mobile device at all. Cell phone companies need to offer devices or services that do not support text messaging. Unfortunately, this will never happen because teenage communication keeps them in business.

    Parents really need to grow a backbone and NOT ALLOW their children to have a mobile device that allows any function beyond emergency phone calls… period. There is no other reason for a child to use a mobile device.

    Let the kids do a ride-along with a paramedic team. After seeing first-hand the horror of a car accident, they may be more responsible.

    Above all, the problem is not just teens texting. I see people of all ages texting and talking on their mobile phones while driving. Anything that distracts a driver is dangerous. Texting or talking while driving is voluntary, and the offender needs to be strictly punished when caught.

  • Laura

    My husband and I are leading by example with our 12 year old. If someone texts me while I’m driving I have her read it and respond for me. Has lead to many conversations on safety and good choices. Hopefully it stays in years to come.

  • danielle

    i have not faced this issue with my children yet because they are under 5, but after watching the movie 7 pounds with will smith, my husband and i vowed, literally vowed, not to text while driving.

  • Lisa McDermott

    Coming back from the doctor’s office this morning, my sick 9-year old and I were listening to this story. I turned off the radio and said to her, “I don’t want to go to your funeral. Pleeeeeeease don’t text and drive.” Her reply? “Mom, I don’t want to go to my funeral either.”

    Thank you to Alex’s mom for being willing to use her unthinkable loss to prevent the rest of us from facing the same tragedy. By the time my daughter is driving, I hope texting and driving will be the exception.

    Lisa from Northfield

  • Laura

    If you, the parent, even suspected that your teen was drinking and driving, would you hand them a bottle of beer before they got behind the wheel? No. So, why let them have a cell phone if you suspect they might be texting and driving? The judgement center in the brain of a teen is not fully developed. They need more guidance in this area.

  • Anna

    I think the only way to stop kids & adults from texting is to pass a law that requires auto makers to install something in the car that will disengage all cell phone when the car is turned on.

  • Elizabeth via Twitter

    @kerrimpr Yeahhhhh I am a “stop-light texter.”I’ll admit it.Glad someone brought it up on air b/c it truly is bad. I’ll stop now.=\

    — Elisabeth Marker (@The_MagicMarker) October 25, 2012

  • Ansley

    I’m in my 20s and I admit, I do text while driving, but only small texts, like ‘almost there’, ‘yes’, etc. I will read texts even. If they are a paragraph, I’ll at least skim and worry about reading it word for word later. If my reply needs a long response, I will wait until I’m not driving.

    When I am driving anywhere in the cities, I like to play a game called, ‘Spot the texter’. What I’ve seen is adults texting, usually while turning left or right. I have seen adults texting in heavy traffic and have even honked at them, and let me tell you, it scares the daylights out of them. It really goes to show that they are ingrained in their phones. When I text, I make a conscious effort to pay attention to the road and not be heavily distracted by my phone. It doesn’t make it right, but I do know the consequences.

  • Dana, a caller

    She talked about it with her childrens’ friends’ parents. She even told some adults that they could not drive her children if they were texting.

  • Greg Linscott

    This is not a matter of needing to educate children as much as it is reminding parents to take responsibility for their children. Mobile phone plans are not a right, and neither is driving. This is not an issue that should be met with a series of warnings from the parent perspective. One strike, you’re out. If the consequences are loose or loosely enforced, the line will more often than not be pushed to the limit. Parents need to worry less about giving teens what they want and be more concerned with what they need.

  • Rebecca

    Is there anything I can do if my ex-husband and his girlfriend text and drive while taking care of our two children?

  • Dana

    After a few close calls, now when I get into the car, I put my purse in the back seat. That keeps me from using the phone at all while I’m driving.

  • Cathy

    I just worked with a 54 year old colleague who hit a light pole earlier this week because of texting while driving…fortunately, no one was hurt, and I think she will never text again while driving. Teens are not the only ones who think “it will never happen to me”.

  • Stephanie


    Jeanne says you need to talk to them. Make sure you don’t do it accusingly. Make sure it is framed as “we all care about the kids.”

    Good luck.

  • Debra

    What about not texting, but using apps on a smartphone? This should also be addressed because it seems just as dangerous.

  • Bob Dickie

    My teen daughter and I were driving together and noticed a large SUV speed past us. The driver, and adult women, was texting and eating (and speeding). We called 911 and reported the incident. The 911 dispatcher patched us through to a highway patrol officer who took our information and id about the car and told us that she would send the driver a letter about what was observed.

    This has led to many conversations with our pre-driver teen about distracted driving and how dangerous it is.

  • Heidi

    The new NBC comedy “Go On” has a driving while texting aspect – Matthew Perry’s character is a widower because his wife crashed her car after texting him.

  • Tom Schumacher

    Hi Kerri.

    i think cars should be designed so that while the motor is running cellular devices are deactivated, period. beyond texting there is the incessant use of cell phones. unitl the physical ability is removed it will always be a problem. thanks for having the program. so sorry for the loss in the Brown family.

    best regards, tom

  • MaryLynn Suckiel

    There was a Bryon Mn cash 7 weeks ago. 17 year old first day of senior year… she was texting. Have you brought this one up?

    DJ Logan. 2 days of big articles about texting,,

    wristbands to not text and drive to high school students.

    My opinion – phone in the trunk/back seat.. everyone gets to learn manual transmission … you can text, talk, smoke, drink your soda and drive very well in town.

    Guest should contact Bryon High and the Logans maybe.

  • Michele

    We need to train our kids and ourselves that the world will not end if they/we wait to read texts. This needs to start in the home and the classroom.

    There is a silly game you can play to help with this where everyone at the table stacks their phones in the middle of the table, and the first person to grab their phone loses.

  • Terrianne

    I do NOT text and drive but this conversation is making me nervous as a fellow driver! I had no idea so many adults were guilty of this dangerous behavior..

  • Scott

    As a parent of kids the biggest way we try to set the example is an time we get a message or call on the cell phone we give the phone to one of the kids to answer, and then they translate the call, showing them that there are other ways to get the message without being at risk.

  • Stephanie Curtis
  • Wendy Khabie


    Kids (adults, too!) are texting when they are doing EVERYTHING ELSE in their daily life, so they don’t see a difference in what happens when they are behind the wheel. It’s just another behavior, another part of their life. So why wouldn’t or couldn’t they be texting then too?

  • Ashtyn

    I just wanted to bring up the fact that text messages are easily deleted.

    Even by checking the phone it’s possible that a parent wouldn’t know that a child was texting durring a sertain time period if the child simply deleted the texts.

    Are there other ways of monitoring cell phone usage? Furthermore, whether a child decides to text or not should be a conscious decision not motivated by fear that his or her parents will find out, but by deeper principals of trust, respect and understanding.

  • Jody

    We all must remember that if and when we choose to text while driving we are not only endangering our own lives, but also the lives of all of the people with and around us. This choice is as much of a crime as driving while drunk.

  • Bruce

    How can we stop young people from texting and driving?

    Awareness and consideration of all the above. When I was a teen in the 80s I would finish up a paragraph in the current book I was reading or even sneak peeks to read while driving. I would shave, eat and tie a tie while driving with my knees. Sometimes driving a longer distance late at night while sleepy I’d get the urge and thought to close my eyes “just for a moment”… I’d be awakened by the feel of the road’s shoulder and be amazed that I had fallen asleep. After a while it be came obvious new strategies were needed. I took up meditation, self-hypnosis and better driving habits, paying full attention to the safe operation of the vehicle and driving with respect to environmental and personal conditions.

    Later, when alcohol was available at 18, I quickly noticed it didn’t mesh while driving (or responsible behavior), instead, cannabis (surprisingly enough) seemed to make things smoother and safer (practicing present moment awareness with relaxed focus).

    Learned it’s best to be present with what’s most important and make sure the end in mind is safely and happily met.

  • Bridget

    I’m in my early 20s and have never like the idea of texting and driving. People make poor enough drivers prior to trying to see what their friend is wearing at the moment. I do drive a stick shift and have found that my friends who drive manuels tend to not use their phone as much while driving (maybe more at stoplights though). Being on your phone whether for texting, music, apps or whichever simply increases the risk of an accident. I find listening to MPR keeps me from bieng distrated by other methods because I get so engrossed in the stories.

  • Bruce

    Oh yeah, audio books and MPR were better alternatives to reading (or sleeping) while driving.

  • Ross Williams

    The notion here is that the problem is texting and teenagers.

    The real problem here is with taking attention from the road and understanding the risks from that. That is a problem for adults as well as teenagers.

    People are talking on the phone while driving for a lot longer than 4 seconds and its also more dangerous than driving drunk. There are more people talking on the phone than are texting. And they are distracted for longer periods of time.

    I have had several close encounters with distracted adult drivers who were talking on their phone. At least a couple of them were too distracted to even know how close they came to hitting me. I have never had a problem with a teenager who appeared to be texting.

    That is not surprising. Because talking on your phone demands your immediate attention whether it is safe to give it or not. By contrast, people can text based on circumstance. They might make bad choices, but they can at least freely make the choice. The person talking on the phone can’t.

    Its time to ban the use of cell phones while driving. Text or talk, it doesn’t matter. Both are dangerous.