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Are you distracting your kid behind the wheel?

None of us want our teenagers texting or talking on the phone while driving, but parents may be among the biggest reasons young drivers are so distracted behind the wheel.

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Martinan, ThinkStock

In a new survey from the National Safety Council, released in conjunction with Distracted Driving Awareness Month, more than half of teens said they “feel pressure from their families to drive distracted.”

When a phone call or text comes in, teens behind wheel have a tendency to check who it’s coming from, according to Pam Fischer, leader of the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition.

And if the answer is Mom or Dad, she said, there’s a sense of urgency among teens to pick up or respond.

“There’s been other survey work, in addition to what the National Safety Council’s recently done, that really shows that teens feel pressured,” Fischer said. “They think, ‘I have to respond or they’re going to get upset. They’re going to get mad at me.'”

But limiting a young driver’s distractions can be accomplished by following one or more of the following guidelines, the coalition says:

  1. Never text or call your teen if you know he or she is behind the wheel.
  2. Let your teen know that even if you do call or text while they’re driving, the teen should let it go and not respond until arriving at a destination.
  3. Create a system with your teen in which he or she texts the family before hitting the road, and again upon arrival. This way, you always know whether the teen is prepared to focus on your call or text.

According to the National Safety Council, car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens. Fischer said the crash risk among teen drivers is three-times higher than any other age group on the road.

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