How to help your college student be a better driver

As a parent of a college student, one of the most challenging moments is letting your student be on their own. Away from home, they are free to make their own choices—both good and not-so-good. Some of the most critical choices your student can make involve driving. Talking to your student about these choices will help your student be a better—and safer—driver.

Texting and driving

A survey of college students shows that 80 percent of college students have texted and driven, even though they acknowledge how dangerous it can be. Missouri state law bans texting for all drivers 21 years old or younger. And it’s not just texting, the state also restricts most other phone use while driving (outside of making calls). Texting can take your eyes off the road for five seconds, which at 55 mph, compares to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving includes texting, but many other activities can also take your attention off the road: talking on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to other people in your car, messing with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system. In 2015, over 3,400 people were killed, and 391,000 people were injured from distracted driving.

Driving under the influence

The laws regarding underage drinking in Missouri are stringent. A blood alcohol content as low as .02 percent can be enough for a person under 21 years to face DWI charges. A DWI on campus can have severe consequences for your student, possibly affecting a scholarship, or involving the school’s disciplinary board. Most campuses have a zero tolerance policy for alcohol.

Sending your student off to college with a car can be a worrisome experience, but preparing them to be responsible will help you sleep at night. The bottom line for your college driver:

  • Stay focused.
  • Stay off your phone.
  • Don’t involve alcohol.
  • Make sure you and your passengers are buckled and being responsible—after all, you’re responsible for them as well.

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