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Are you sending your child mixed messages on distracted driving?

Distracted driving leads to more than nine deaths and more than one thousand injuries every day in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and cellphones are one of the main sources of distraction.

If you are the parent of a teenage driver, chances are that you have talked to him or her on numerous occasions about the dangers of texting and driving. But how do you know if what you are saying is getting through to your son or daughter?

According to recent surveys from Online Schools and the advocacy group

  • 55 percent of teen drivers said it was easy to text and drive
  • 34 percent of teen drivers said they have texted while behind the wheel
  • 48 percent of teen drivers said they had seen their parents drive while talking on a cell phone (which can also impair a driver's reaction time)
  • 15 percent of teen drivers said they had seen their parents text while driving

What this data tells us is that there are many teen drivers who think that it is okay to use their cellphones while driving, and parents may be sending them that message by doing it themselves.

Therefore, as a recent report from CNN suggests, it is just as important for parents to lead by example as it is to tell their children that distracted driving is dangerous. That means it's not okay for parents to send a quick text while their children are in the back seat, or call their child while he or she knows the parent is driving.

Texting is second nature for teens today, and it is going to take a lot of work to convince them that cellphones need to be put away while behind the wheel in order to prevent a serious or fatal accident from occurring.

When it comes to these efforts, parents are -- literally and figuratively -- in the driver's seat.

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