Distracted driving is a big problem in Yakima and in the state of Washington. January is National Teen Driving Awareness Month and officials at US Cellular are passing along tips for teens and parents about how to stay safe while driving with a phone. They say nearly 1 in 10 drivers ages 15-20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted, the largest proportion for any age group. Authorities in the state say if you follow the tips you could save your life or the life of another driver.

Put down that phone and drive

“Mobile devices can be a great tool to enhance safety and security while on the roadways in many ways,” says Vanessa Leija, director of sales for UScellular in Washington. “If someone is distracted by a device, however, it can quickly become a real liability. It is imperative among teens especially that safety protocols when driving are established and maintained.”
She says there are specific things teens and parents can do to save lives.

Establish your own rules of the road.

A simple yet effective step is to establish rules and expectations with your teen. UScellular’s Digital Family Matters website offers a free, customizable Parent-Child Agreement to help aid in this process. Families can outline specifics relative to phone usage while driving – such as not texting and driving, keeping location apps active and other important details like curfews and nighttime driving limitations. Parents can even commit to abide by the expectations as well. These agreements can be downloaded, signed and shared – and edited as needed.

Get situated before setting out.

Mobile devices serve as a resource for music, driving directions and more. Before hitting the road, get connected to CarPlay or Bluetooth if able, then set the phone out of the way or use one of many mounting devices available on the market, like the Scosche 3-in-1 Universal Car Mount for Smartphones. Drivers should confirm sightlines are clear and their hands are not touching their device before heading out.

Use Focus Mode

Built-in phone features are available to help drivers stay focused. Driving Focus and Driving Mode can be utilized on iPhones and Android phones, respectively. This mode uses a “do not disturb” feature by limiting notifications, calls and texts when driving. Individuals sending a message will see that the driver has silenced notifications or receive an automatic reply, depending on settings. Incoming calls are only allowed when connected to CarPlay, Bluetooth or a hands-free accessory, and individuals can ask their smartphone digital assistant – like ask Siri or Bixby – to read replies. Explore these modes to see all the features, settings and allowances.

Take advantage of apps

A wide range of applications are available to help with location sharing, that can monitor driving speeds and phone usage, and even detect accidents. Life360 and Find My Family are two great options for download.


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