Distracted and Impaired Driving

Being a driver and a passenger can be a fun new world of independence for teens, yet we also know that this can potentially be a time of risky decisions that can lead to accidents. As a driver and a passenger there are many safety factors to constantly keep in mind.


  • When you send a text, you take your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds. That’s the time it takes to drive the length of a football field going 55 MPH! (U.S. Department of Transportation).
  • 21% of Missoula students reported riding in a car, at least once in the past 30 days, with a driver who had been drinking (2014 Montana Prevention Needs Assessment)
  • Montana teen self-reported seat belt use is much lower than other age groups. Combining the low seat belt usage rate with a lack of driving experience is a major reason why traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for young people in Montana.
  • 6 out of 10 teen crashes involved distracted driving (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety).

    What can you do?

  • Clarify with your teenager about your expectations for them for being a safe driver and passenger.
  • Talk with them about how substances, such as misused medications, alcohol, illicit drugs, and even marijuana can and do have an effect on their driving abilities, reaction times, and how they behave as a passenger.
  • Encourage your teen to ride or drive only in situations that they feel is safe (discuss what those safe and unsafe situations might be) and discuss a strategy for them to remove themselves from an unsafe situation.
  • Model your families clear rules about cells phones and other distractions in the car.