We love you, teens!

Justin Kollmeyer's picture

Yes, teenagers, we love you. As parents and adults there is nothing we want more than for you to be healthy and happy, and live thriving and productive lives. We will do anything we can to protect you and enable you grow up and achieve your potential to become outstanding citizens and contributors to society.

And, I know you teens love your parents, don’t you? One of The Ten Commandments declares, “honor your father and your mother.” You teens want to do everything you can to show your love, respect, and honor to your parents. You realize the sacrifices they have made for you and the investment they have in your life.

Of course, you may not always agree with your parents about their authority over your life, but deep down inside you realize your desire to obey them and please them and protect them, and to conduct yourself so they do not get hurt deeply.

So, here’s the deal : Teenagers, stop texting while driving. O.K.? And stop searching your contacts list with your head down while driving. O.K.? And stop doing anything on your smart (or not-so-smart) phone while driving. O.K.? We love you and don’t want to lose you in some stupid moment of distraction that costs you your life and destroys the lives of your parents.

What prompts me to write you about this right now are two articles recently in Consumer Reports about this subject. Parents, please sit down with your teen and read these together. I have offered excerpts from each of them here:

“The 911 call went out about a minute after Sarah Edwards received her last text message. In January the 18-year-old high-school senior from Chocowinity, N.C., was reading that message when her 1988 Honda Accord drifted across the center line of a rural two-lane road and into the rear tires of a loaded logging truck. She died instantly. “She never looked up,” said her mother, Tracy O’Carroll, remembering the words of the truck driver who made the call. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has called distracted driving a deadly epidemic. And a new nationally representative survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center shows just how widespread it is.

“But the survey also shows what’s helping to change that behavior, including educating drivers about the danger of careless cell-phone use and new bans in many regions that target the hazard.”

And from another CR article: “It’s dangerous to use a cell phone behind the wheel. But many teenagers and other young drivers still play the odds by talking or texting on a handheld cell phone or operating a mobile device while driving. Those are the findings of a recent nationally representative survey of drivers 16 to 21 years old by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

“Almost half of the respondents said they had talked on a handheld phone while driving in the previous 30 days. Close to 30 percent said they had texted in that time. And some had operated smart-phone apps (eight percent) or used e-mail or social media (seven percent) while behind the wheel.

“Yet almost all of them considered text-ing, using smart-phone apps, or accessing the Internet to be dangerous while driving; about 80 percent thought it was very dangerous. Also, 63 percent of those surveyed saw talking on a handheld phone while driving as dangerous.

“Moreover, most respondents had seen their peers doing similar things in that time. Eighty-four percent saw other young people talking on a handheld phone, more than 70 percent witnessed texting, and about a third saw peers using apps, e-mail, or social media behind the wheel.

“Why is that dangerous? Motor-vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teenagers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And 11 percent of teenage drivers who died in crashes in 2010 were distracted...

“What’s working: Concern about distracted driving led almost three-quarters of those surveyed to stop or reduce such behavior, they said. More than 60 percent said they were influenced by reading or hearing about the problem, 40 percent by related bans, and close to 30 percent by their family urging them to stop. Almost 20 percent knew someone who had been in a crash caused by distracted driving.

“Our survey also found that having peers in the car may help curb distracted driving. Almost 50 percent said they were less likely to talk on a handheld cell phone or text when friends were along. One reason may be that many young people are speaking up; almost half said they had asked a driver to stop using a phone in the car because they feared for their safety.

“Whether you’re a parent, friend, or sibling, set a good example. Stop the car in a safe place if you need to use a cell phone. And if you’re riding with a driver using a phone, ask him or her to put it down and stop gambling with your safety.”

We love you, teens! Stop now.

Kollmeyer is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church located between Lowe’s and The Pavilion on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville. Visit online at www.princeofpeacefayette.com

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