TEENS: Do you text while driving your vehicle? Are you ever a passenger when the driver you're with is texting? Recent government data indicates that over 10% of teen drivers send text messages while driving, and this very serious distraction results in many more automobile crashes than drivers who don't text.
This is a shocking statistic. Many states have passed laws banning texting when driving a vehicle. Texting while driving is now as serious as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
It is important to focus on strategies to avoid the temptation to send or receive text messages while driving. Here are some of the most useful ideas that my research into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics and private insurance companies has yielded:
— Keep your phone out of reach or out of sight while driving.
— Turn your phone on "Do Not Disturb" mode, or turn your phone's volume to silent and keep the vibrate function off while in the car.
— Use an app to block incoming calls or texts while driving.
— Always pull your vehicle off the road to a safe location, and stop your vehicle entirely to send or read a text message. Remember that if you simply pull off the road, your engine will still be running.
— Securely mount your phone to your dashboard if you need your phone for navigational purposes, and keep your phone on "Do Not Disturb" mode while driving to prevent notifications from distracting you.
— Make a social commitment by telling your friends and family members that you're not going to text and drive. Encourage them to do the same. Be a leader, and spread the word about the potential dangers of distracted driving at every opportunity.
The dangers of texting and driving should not be taken lightly. Every time a driver switches focus (and, worse, his or her eyes!) from the road to their cellphone, they increase their likelihood of being involved in an automobile crash.
I'M ON YOUR PARENTS' SIDE
DR. WALLACE: Both of my parents are full-time business professionals and are very busy with their careers. They've employed a full-time housekeeper several days a week. This housekeeper cleans, does the laundry, cooks and does other helpful jobs around the house. She also buys all of our food at the grocery store. She is a very good worker and a really nice person, and I like her a lot.
My problem is that this lady doesn't clean or go into my room because my parents have told her that it's my responsibility to take care of my own room. I don't think that is fair! I'm an excellent student. I play sports, and I'm involved in student government. As you can see, I am a very busy teen. I'm not trying to get out of keeping my room tidy; it's just that it would be a lot easier for me and save time if she would clean it at least once every two weeks.
My parents won't hear of this! Don't you think that my parents are forgetting to take my busy schedule into consideration? Maybe a word from you might get them to change their minds. I've talked with our wonderful housekeeper, and she said she would be happy to tidy up my room once in a while if given permission by my parents. — Busy Teen, via email
BUSY TEEN: Sorry, but I'm on your parent's side in this matter. You don't need a housekeeper! I agree that you should be responsible for maintaining order in your room, and furthermore, I think you should be assigned certain daily household chores. If you budget your time, you can keep your room tidy, do your chores and still have ample time for studying and other activities.
Teens should absolutely help out at home. It's an important part of how they learn to take on responsibility, which is a prerequisite for achieving independence.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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