5 Seconds
Get the Message About Distracted Driving

Winter 2014/2015


Five seconds. That’s the time it takes to sneak a glance at your smartphone to see who texted you.1 

Five seconds seems like nothing. With 86,400 seconds in a day, we tend to take seconds for granted. Who’s going to care if we take our eyes off the road for just five of those fleeting seconds to read a text message? 

But in just five seconds, a car at highway speed can race the length of a football field.2 If the car in front of you slams on its brakes without warning, your car can close that distance in a fraction of that time.

In five seconds, lives and families are changed forever.

At Subaru, we are dedicated to keeping you safe on the road. But we need your help. Don’t text and drive. Talk to your kids about what’s at stake, so they’ll do the same. If you take care of the seconds, we promise to continue to create vehicles that will help protect you on the road ahead. For years to come


A Father Who Lost his Child Wants to Save Yours

by Joel Feldman

My daughter, Casey, was 21 when she was killed by a distracted driver. Before her death, I often drove distracted – checking emails, eating, and texting. 

I also drove distracted with Casey and her brother, Brett, in the vehicle. Even though my children are important to me, I took chances driving with them as passengers. I rationalized my risky driving by telling myself that I had never been in a crash, that I was an experienced driver, and that checking emails or texting took only a few seconds. 

During speaking engagements with almost 30,000 teens across the country in the past two years, nearly 70 percent told me that their moms and dads drive distracted with them in the vehicle. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that, through rationalization, I placed expediency over the safety of my children. Doing so was not congruent with professing that I would do anything to keep them safe. 

Perhaps it’s not just teens who believe they are invincible when behind the wheel of a vehicle. 

Teach Your Children 

But to make matters worse, as I drove distracted with Casey and Brett in the vehicle, I was unwittingly teaching them that it was okay for them to drive distracted. Our children learn by watching us, and they learn both good and bad habits. 

I was not a very good role model.

Some parents whose children have died while texting ask me whether their son or daughter was texting at the time of their death because they had seen mom or dad do it. While I believe that may be the case, compassion prevents me from saying so to grieving parents. 

Like most parents, I had told Casey and Brett that it was not safe to use their cell phones while driving, nor should they eat or apply makeup or do a number of other things while driving. 

But what I had shown them was different. 

Lead by Example

A great way to have a nonconfrontational conversation with your teen – and even younger children –  about driving is to tell them that you have changed the way that you drive. Admit that your driving was not safe, and show them that while driving you now put the phone away, no longer have meals in the vehicle, and wait until you are stopped to put on makeup or retrieve texts and voice messages. 

Let them know that you realize distracted driving is not just a teen problem, but that you were part of the problem, and now you want to be part of the solution. Apologize for driving distracted with them in the vehicle. Don’t lecture, and make the conversation about you. They will listen. And while you’ve got them listening, tell them that you love them. Because that’s what this is all about. 

Ask them to watch you and to help you drive safer because distracted driving may have become a habit. Ask them to work with you to develop a Family Safe Driving Agreement that all family members will commit
to following.

Also, you can watch short videos with them that tell compelling stories and can lead to reflection about driving behaviors and attitudes. (They are not overly graphic.)

Empower Them to Act on Their Own

Teens tell me that their friends’ parents, often in car pools, drive distracted at an even greater frequency than their own parents. Yes, other adults are taking chances driving with your children. So are their peers. 

Studies show that teens are the least likely of any age group to speak up when in a vehicle with a distracted driver.8 Parents need to ask their children about the driving habits of anyone who drives them. Once you’ve talked with your children about your distracted driving, they’ll be more likely to be honest when it comes to other drivers. 

If you learn that other adults are driving your children while distracted, it’s up to you to talk with that adult or switch car pools. 

Teens, and even younger children, need to learn that they have a right to be driven safely even if it is someone else’s vehicle. Distracted-driving passenger-intervention programs can teach the skills necessary to intervene successfully and give them the confidence to do so. 


Family Safe Driving Agreements

Do your part to put an end to distracted driving. Find simple steps you can take to avoid being a distracted driver.

Liberty Mutual Insurance Teen Driving Program

Subaru partner Liberty Mutual Insurance believes that parents and teens have enough to worry about when a teenager is learning how to drive; getting a teen auto insurance shouldn't be one of them. Let Liberty Mutual answer your questions so you can worry about more important things, like those practice sessions. Learn more about:

  • Teen driving
  • Auto insurance for teens
  • Parent/teen contract, as mentioned above

Liberty Mutual also offers an online driving course along with a sample quiz.

Learn more about Subaru Advantage Insurance from Liberty Mutual.




1 Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. (2009, VTTI). 
2 When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI). 
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online] (2012). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). 
4 University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Toyota, November 2012. 
5 The 2013 Teen Driving Report, sponsored by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). 
6 Driving a vehicle while texting is six times more dangerous than driving while intoxicated according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 
7 U.S. Department of Transportation Survey “Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-crash Incidences.” 
8 Data from a 2012 Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD survey of more than 1,700 teens from across the country. The survey found teens exhibit or observe their parents exhibiting the illustrated behavior at least occasionally.