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Drive away distractions to protect teens behind the wheel


(BPT) – Today’s teens face more distractions than any generation before.

Many don’t recall a time when they were not continuously connected to their friends. Cell phones, which might have been provided as a safety precaution in case Mom or Dad was running late picking them up from school, are now the source of constant messaging, sharing and media consumption.

Teens send texts instead of passing notes in class. They share moments with their peers and the world in the form of photos and short videos. Music, food and transportation can arrive on demand, all with the swipe of a finger. Being away from their phones, even for a short period of time, can even cause a form of separation anxiety expressed in the acronym FOMO (fear of missing out).

So it should come as no surprise that cell phone use is the offense most commonly associated with distracted driving. However, it’s not the only type of distraction.

“A lot of people think they’re better drivers than they actually are, which is why they take unnecessary risks when they’re behind the wheel,” said Randy Petro, chief claims officer for Mercury Insurance. “We see a lot of claims related to distracted driving, including parents turning to scold arguing children, adjusting the infotainment system, and even taking photos while driving. Your first priority once you start piloting any vehicle should be to focus on the task at hand—driving.”

Ten percent of all drivers ages 15 to 19 who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA also reports that 660,000 people drive distracted every day.

Teens aren’t the only ones who feel the need to be connected; adults are guilty of it, too.

Many of the teens who are glued to their smartphones have witnessed their parents answering emails at the dinner table or have seen them shoot a “quick text” while driving. Teens have grown up learning that this type of behavior is acceptable and maybe even expected. However, there’s a right time and a right place for everything.

“The first thing parents need to do is practice what they preach. Teenagers won’t always be receptive to ‘because I say so’ or ‘because I’m the adult,’ especially if they witness their parents actively engaging in a behavior they’re being told is bad,” adds Petro. “We as adults need to set a proper example – after all, we do have the advantage of more life experience.”

Parents should set a powerful example by committing not to drive distracted if they want their children to do the same. If necessary, parents can also invest in technology to monitor and disable phones while their teens are driving to eliminate the temptation altogether.

“No Instagram post, bite of a burger or playlist selection is worth someone else’s life. People are mainly in a car to get from point A to point B, and our wish is for them to do it safely,” says Petro.

There are several excellent online resources that provide tips and information to help prepare teens for life behind the wheel, including Mercury Insurance’s Drive Safe Challenge and NHTSA’s Distraction.gov.

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Link Wireless

Residents will soon have a new wireless store to purchase cell phones from. Owners Amy Swindell and Karen Cook are opening Link Wireless, at 25 S. Main Street, in Cedar Springs. The store will specialize in no-contract cellular service and cell phone sales. They provide no-contract service from three top networks: Simple mobile, H20 and Pageplus, and also provide cell phone accessories. They also provide a bill pay service and fax service for any bills you have from mortgage to auto, utilities and insurance. They also sell electronic cigarette kits and accessries.
The owners say that great prices and personable customer service set them apart from their competition.
Customers don’t have to purchase a phone to take advantage of their low-cost no-contract plans. You can bring them any phone and they can switch your current service and have the option to keep the same number.
They soon will also provide Dish Network sales and will expand their inventory of phones, accessories and providers.
Hours will be Monday and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; they are open until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Watch for their grand opening details in the Post!

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