How Often Are Teens Driving While Distracted?

(Knowing the facts could save a life)
distracted driving guide for teens

The time has come for your teenager to get their license. They’re ecstatic to finally have a straight line to freedom, but all you can think about is how teenagers are 50% more likely to be in an accident than adults. The biggest culprit: distracted driving.

Types of distracted drivers

You know from first-hand experience that it’s easy to get distracted behind the wheel. But what makes teens so much more susceptible to distracted driving? How can you as a parent help guide your teen to safe driving habits? A good place to start is with an affordable car insurance policy, but you'll find more answers in this article. 

Why Is Distracted Driving a Problem for Teens?

In reality, distracted driving is a problem for everyone. On average, nine people die every day in car accidents as a result of distracted driving. 

For teens, the risk increases because of inexperience. That’s not to say that someone who has been driving for 20 years gets less distracted than a teen, but having more experience behind the wheel enables them to handle situations better and understand the risks of distracted driving. 

Teens are not equipped with the experience to handle distractions, which is why it’s such a common cause of accidents.

How Are Teens Becoming Distracted While Driving?

As new, hopeful and inexperienced drivers, teens are taking on a lot of responsibility when they get behind the wheel. Most teens start out focused and not giving in to common distractions, but the more comfortable they become as drivers, the more likely it is that the most common distractions will become a problem.

  • Texting and use of social media sites
  • Speaking to friends and other passengers
  • Looking for something inside or outside the vehicle
  • Changing the music
  • Mind-wandering

Distracted driving contributing factors

distracted driving contributing factors

Ultimately, after just a few months, teens feel like they’ve got the hang of driving and start to drive faster and more recklessly. 

In addition, the increased use of texting and browsing vs. making phone calls has teen drivers looking down at their phones while driving. While they feel like they are only looking down for a second, it takes less time than that to get in an accident. 


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How Can I Limit My Teenagers’ Distractions While Driving?

As the parent and the adult, you can play a large role in helping your teen become a safe driver. While you can’t be in the car at all times ensuring their hands are at 10 and 2, are a few steps you can take to start them off on the right foot. 

  1. Explain distracted driving: There’s a good chance your teen isn’t aware of all the ways they could be distracted while driving. Spend some time going over what it is and the most common factors. 
    1. Cell phones
    2. Texting
    3. Email
    4. Eating
    5. Changing music
    6. Talking with passengers
    7. Attempting to find something in the car
  2. Lay down the law:  Set strict driving and phone rules for your teen. You can limit your teen's screen time to certain times of day if you know they’ll be behind the wheel.
  3. Know the law: Every state has a Graduated Driver License (GDL) program, and knowing your state's GDL laws will help you and your teen understand the restrictions that will be placed on your teen’s license. In some states, teens can’t drive with passengers who aren’t immediate family for a certain number of months, and some states have evening driving restrictions. 
  4. Be a good role model: Before your child ever gets behind the wheel, they spend 16 years in the car as a passenger with you. The best thing you can do is be a good role model to your child during those years. Avoid common distractions and set a good example of what being a safe driver means. 
  5. Spend time teaching your teen how to drive: Set time aside to get in the car with your teen and drive as often as possible. This will allow you to see the areas where they need extra help and encourage safe driving tactics. 
  6.  Talk about the dangers of illegal substances: Being a teenager is an experimental age. Reminding your teen of the consequences of driving under the influence is always a good idea.

What Is My State Doing to Prevent Distracted Driving? 

Distracted driving for teens has become such a large problem that state and nationwide initiatives have been put into place to help combat it.

The US Department of Transportation has a website dedicated to providing tips for parents and teen drivers to help teens be safe on the road.

Today, more than 47 states have laws that prohibit or restrict texting while driving. In addition, 38 states have completely banned cell phone use while driving. 

Insurance companies have started to jump on board with helping fight teen distracted driving as well. Several insurance companies have implemented teen safety programs.



AAA SmartStart Safety training New drivers Varies
Allstate Cellcontrol Driver
Teen drivers 25% off
$96 hardware
Allstate TeenSmart Safety training - 10%
Teen Safe
- 10%
Arbella Driver Simulator
Safety training New drivers 7%
Arbella Advanced Driver
Safety training New drivers 5%
You're Essential to     
Safety® (Y.E.S.)
Safety training      - Varies
GEICO Driver's Education
Safety training New drivers      Varies
GEICO Defensive Driving
Safety training All drivers 10%
Libery Mutual Driver Training
Safety training Up to 21 5%
MAPFRE TeenSmart Safety training Up to 21 15%
State Farm Driver Training
Safety training Up to 21 Varies
State Farm Steer Clear Safety training         Up to 25 15%
The Hanover      SafeTeen Distraction
Teen drivers Varies
Travelers Driver Training
Safety training Full-time
USAA Safe Driving
Safe drivers All drivers Varies
USAA Driver Training
Safety training Up to 21 Varies

Whether your teen is just getting their license or is already on the road, educating yourself and your teen on how to stay safe behind the wheel can help fight the distracted driving epidemic. Just make sure they're covered with an affordable car insurance policy.

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