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Teens Who Just Don't Get It...And Why
Published: Sunday, June 6, 2010

By: Staff Writers

There has been a tidal wave of news in the last month about the use of cell phones in the hands of teen drivers. California passed a law this month prohibiting the use of cell phones by teens behind the wheel. Pennsylvania, Kansas and others are considering similar bans.

A recent Dr. Phil show spent 30-minutes interviewing a 17-year old girl who considered herself a "good texter" -- sending and receiving over 5,000 text messages each month. Many of these while driving a stick shift.  Virtual Driver Interactive, one of the best-known manufacturers of high tech driving simulators, was brought on the Dr. Phil show to test the girl on her ability to drive while texting. As you might expect, she failed miserably.

You can watch the entire 30-minute segment here at the Virtual Driver Interactive web site. It plays in Windows Media Player and takes a moment to get started. But it's well worth the short wait. Some viewers are mystified and puzzled as to why this young girl couldn't "get it" -- that texting while driving is dangerous to herself and others. Some viewers were enraged that the girl's mother didn't take the car away from her altogether. Your reaction may differ, but it's a sure bet you'll reach your own conclusions about what the girl's mother could have done!

This episode demonstrates clearly what researchers know about teens. Due to the unfinished maturation of the brain, teens often are not able to make sound judgments about the likely results of their actions. This young girl illustrates that over and over again.

What's the message for parents in this?  First, it's critical to understand your teen's readiness to drive. Second, it's a reminder that teens are "under your control" and it's up to you to set rules around driving. As you may have seen in the August newsletter, law suits filed under the "Family Purpose Doctrine" theory and state laws can take away everything a family has worked decades to achieve.

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