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Distracted teens have to put the phone down and drive

Distracted driving is a big problem in Yakima and Washington state. January is National Teen Driving Awareness Month, and US Cellular officials are broadcasting tips for teens and parents on how to stay safe while driving with a phone. They say nearly 1 in 10 drivers aged 15 to 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted, the highest percentage for any age group. State authorities say that if you follow the tips, you could save yourself or another driver’s life.

Put that phone down and drive

“Mobile devices can be a great way to improve safety while on the go 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 especially imperative among adolescents that safety protocols while driving are established and maintained. She says there are specific things teens and parents can do to save lives.

Set your own rules of the road.

A simple but effective step is to set rules and expectations with your child. UScellular’s Digital Family Matters website offers a free, customizable parent-child agreement to help with this process. Families can outline specifics around phone use while driving, such as not texting and driving, keeping location apps on, and other important details like curfews and night driving restrictions. Parents can also commit to meeting expectations. These agreements can be downloaded, signed and shared, and modified as needed.

Find your location before you leave.

Mobile devices serve as a resource for music, directions, and more. Before hitting the road, connect to CarPlay or Bluetooth if possible, then move your phone away or use one of the many mounting devices available on the market, such as the Scosche 3-in-1 Universal Car Mount for Smartphones. Drivers must confirm that the line of sight is unobstructed and that their hands are not touching the device before exiting.

Use focus mode

Integrated telephone functions are available to help drivers stay focused. Driving Focus and Driving Mode can be used on iPhone and Android phone respectively. This mode uses a “do not disturb” feature limiting notifications, calls and messages while driving. People who send you a message will see that the driver has silenced notifications or get an automatic reply, depending on your settings. Incoming calls are allowed only when connected to CarPlay, Bluetooth or a hands-free accessory, and people can ask their smartphone’s digital assistant, such as asking Siri or Bixby, to read responses. Explore these modes to see all features, settings and allowances.

Take advantage of apps

A wide range of applications are available to help with location sharing, which can track your driving speed and phone usage, and even detect accidents. Life360 and Find My Family are two great download options.https://youtu.be/rcMLPn1oRp8

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