Teen Safety in the Car

Tips For Teens to Avoid Distracted Driving

If teens didn’t need another reason not to text and drive, police across the region will crack down on distracted drivers in April as part of national Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

The California Highway Patrol, state Office of Traffic Safety and more than 200 local law enforcement agencies statewide will be out in force, ticketing drivers caught texting, holding cell phones to their heads, or driving while appearing distracted in any way.

Learn more teens and driving.

Talk To Your Kids About the Risks of Texting While Driving

A new survey from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that most teens admit that when they drive, they’re also texting and emailing.

The CDC surveyed 15,000 high school students about a variety of at risk behaviors. According to the survey, one in three high school students reported they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous 30 days.

Girl in driver's seat of car holding the car keys

Teen Safety in the Car Tip Sheets

Download Teen Safety in the Car Tip Sheet: English and Spanish


As a driver:

  • Wear your seat belt and insist that passengers also wear theirs.
  • In California, a peace officer has the right to give a driver a ticket if their passenger is not buckled up.
  • Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive.
  • New drivers have elevated crash risks, especially for teens younger than 18. Young drivers are at greater risk for injury and death because they lack judgment that comes with maturity and skill that comes with practice.
  • It is ok to tell passengers, “Please do not distract me while I’m driving.” Research shows that a teen’s risk of being involved in a crash increases greatly with each peer passenger in the car.
  • Pull over to use your cell phone or have your passenger answer it instead.

As a passenger:

  • Always wear your seat belt. As children get older, studies show their seat belt use rates tend to decline. Parents tend to overestimate their teen’s seat belt use rate.
  • Respect your driver. Be helpful by reading directions, avoid talking loudly, or playing loud music.
  • It is ok to refuse to get in a car if you think it is an unsafe situation. Develop a code word. Calling or texting your parent with a previously agreed-upon code word that signals trouble can help teens get out of an unsafe situation.

As a parent:

  • Get involved! Involved parents who set rules and monitor their teens’ driving behavior in a supportive way can lower their teens’ crash risk by half.
  • Know the law. Many youngsters are eager to know when they can get a driver’s license. In California, they must be at least 16 years old to be eligible for a provisional driver’s license. There are special restrictions and requirements for drivers under 18. For more information, visit dmv.ca.gov
  • Be a good role model. Follow the rules of the road, do not talk or text on your phone while driving. Make sure you are not speeding or tailgating.
  • Create a Passenger Agreement with your teen. By setting clear expectations, a Passenger Agreement can help reinforce key behaviors that keep teens safe as passengers now and as drivers later.

For more important tips to prevent injuries in children and teens, visit choc.org/safety.

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