Teens and adolescents do not have fully developed brains. The last part of young people’s brains to develop is the prefrontal cortex, or the rational part of a brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. The prefrontal cortex will not fully develop until around age 25.
Rather, teens and adolescents process information with the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain. This has serious implications when it comes to young people’s analysis of risk versus reward, as well as their understanding of safety.
In the real world, this can come into play with teen drivers. Many teens engage in distracting behaviors while driving because their underdeveloped prefrontal cortices often give them a sense of invincibility; they often believe that bad things cannot happen to them, because they do not have the mental capacity to imagine that real possibility.
Below, we discuss three ways to help teens understand this phenomenon and discourage them from participating in distracted driving.
#1. Explain What Distracted Driving Is
Many teens believe that distracted driving only involves texting and driving. While this is a major form of distraction, it is not the only form. Eating and drinking, playing loud music, talking to passengers, managing pets in the vehicle, and mind wandering are all forms of distraction that teens should be aware of. When teens know what types of behaviors may endanger them, they may be more likely to mitigate such behaviors while driving.
#2. Discuss the Consequences of Peer Pressure
Most teens fall victim to peer pressure at some point. This can have devastating consequences when it happens behind the wheel. It is important to explain to your teen that they are in ultimate control of their vehicle, and they have the final say in what happens inside it. They should try their best not to let their friends’ opinions control how fast they are driving or how loud the music is. Teens should also understand that friends who may force them into uncomfortable situations may not be the friends they want in the long-term.
#3. Be a Good Role Model
Children, and even teens, often model their behavior off their parents’ behaviors. One of the best ways to discourage your teen from distracted driving is not to participate in the activity yourself. Keep your phone in a secure, mounted position while driving and only use it for GPS or through voice commands. Keep music at a low volume. Always drive at or below the speed limit.
Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact Us Today
Even if your child operates their vehicle responsibly, other adolescents may not. If you or someone you love has been harmed by a distracted driver, our North Carolina personal injury attorneys are here to help. We can identify any and all liable parties and help you and your family recover the compensation you need to move forward.
Call Lanier Law Group, P.A. at (855) 757-4204 to schedule a free consultation.