Stay Focused on Driving

We've all heard that texting and driving or just using the phone while you're driving is dangerous. Unfortunately, that's not enough to stop some of us.

Multi-tasking is something a lot of us are convinced we do well. You might be surprised to learn that's not true at all – for teens or adults. Teens are often thought of as great multi-taskers: They can carry on a text conversation while doing homework, binge watching a show online and washing the dishes, right? Well, not really.

When we multi-task, our brain is really switching back and forth between doing various tasks. Depending on the task and the person, switching can be very quick and appear seamless. But really, every time the brain switches tasks, it slows reaction time. That's not a big deal when your teen is texting a friend and watching TV, but it can be deadly behind the wheel.

Hands-free won't cut it either. A driver on the phone can miss up to 50% of the driving environment. And that distraction can linger, studies show, up to 27 seconds after the calls ends.

And there's a new distraction drivers – including teens – have to deal with: the infotainment system. Technology has become a big part of the driving experience. Some features, including new safety systems, improve the driving experience. Others, like voice-controlled systems that promise to do everything – calls, texts, emails and even posting to social media platforms – present new distractions.

Remember that these features are included in the car for convenience, not safety. All drivers, especially your teen, should avoid the dash to the dashboard.

Don't Get Hung Up on Technology

Not all distractions revolve around tech. One of the most dangerous has a very familar face.

Other teen passengers, or even little brothers or sisters, can be one of the biggest distractions teens face in the car. So big, we even have a separate page about it.

What other in-vehicle distractions are potentially lethal for the new driver? Spoiler alert – they're not very high tech at all:

  • Applying make-up
  • Reading
  • Looking for things in the glove box or reaching for a purse
  • Eating
  • Fumbling while performing what seems like a simple task

These are all distractions within the driver’s control that should be avoided, but distractions also happen outside the car:

  • Interesting signs
  • Events on the side of the road—including crashes
  • Beautiful scenery

These distractions are hard to avoid. Help remind new drivers to keep their eyes moving and scan the road. When our teens are driving, they must stay focused on the task at hand: Driving.

One of the best ways for them to learn is to watch you drive—distraction free. Remember that your behavior sets the example for your teen.


GM Foundation