Be a Driving Influence

This lesson empowers students to use their knowledge about distracted driving and social influence to become advocates for safe driving. First, students will examine the role peer pressure plays in distracted driving—from prompting drivers to engage in dangerous behavior to preventing passengers from saying something if they feel a driver is being unsafe. Next students will learn tips to help them use positive social influence to become safe-driving role models and to "speak up" to encourage others to drive safely and refrain from distracted driving. To practice these skills, students will assess a set of scenarios and evaluate what they would do in each situation.

Students will analyze distracted-driving scenarios and identify ways to use positive social influence to promote safe driving.


  • Participate in collaborative discussions
  • Analytical thinking
  • Present facts and findings

Students will be able to:

  • Identify distracted-driving situations and the role peer pressure may play in these situations.
  • Develop and practice skills to help them act as role models and use positive social influence to advocate safe driving behavior.
  • Participate in collaborative discussions in small and large groups about distracted driving.

Be a Driving Influence [download PDF], props for distractions (cell phones, food, radio, etc.)


Introduction (10–15 minutes)
Use this lesson with your students to introduce the concept of positive social influence.

To start, discuss peer pressure with your students. Ask students:

  • Have you ever felt pressured by friends to drive unsafely?
  • As passengers, has a driver ever made you feel unsafe because he or she was distracted and not focused on the road?
  • What did you do?
  • Did you say anything to the passenger or driver to let him or her know you were uncomfortable?
Have students share their stories.

Acknowledge that it is not always easy to say no to friends who are pressuring you. It's also not easy to say something to friends when you don't agree with what they're doing.

Next explain that peer pressure does not have to be negative—sometimes it can be positive, like when friends encourage you to do something safe or productive, such as join a sports team because they think you're good, or join a study group to prepare for a test.

Explain to students that in this activity, they are going to learn tips for using positive peer pressure or social influence to promote safe driving and help prevent distracted driving.

Small Group (15–20 minutes)
Distribute the Be a Driving Influence activity sheet to students and review the introduction and tips together. Then have students work in small groups to analyze and discuss the scenarios. Remind students that they can use the tips provided or their own ideas to promote safe driving. If your students do not yet drive, have them imagine the driver's perspective in the relevant situations. The key is for them to be positive and supportive to get their message across. When students are done, reconvene and have groups share their responses.

Group responses will vary but should include positive messaging to help prevent distracted driving, such as stopping safely in a parking lot to call for directions or look for something; telling friends you need to concentrate when driving; asking someone for a ride if you're too tired to drive; offering to answer calls for the driver; suggesting the driver and passengers leave their phones in the trunk; offering to sit in the backseat to read to a younger sibling, etc.

Small Group (15–20 minutes)
In this part of the lesson, have students use the tips provided and their own ideas to brainstorm ways they can use positive social influence to advocate safe driving behavior and help prevent their families and friends from engaging in distracted driving. Have students work in groups to act out their ideas.

If students need examples of distracted-driving issues, provide them with the following list:
  • Texting
  • Dialing/talking on a cell phone
  • Emailing
  • Talking to passengers
  • Eating and drinking
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Grooming
  • Using a navigation system
  • Adjusting music
  • Adjusting the controls
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling emotional

Conclusion (5 minutes)
Ask one student from each group to share with the class their tips for using social influence to promote safe driving.
Extension Activity
For students who drive, ask them to evaluate their own driving habits and any triggers that may cause them to engage in distracted driving, such as peer pressure, fatigue, texting, etc. For each trigger, students should develop a solution to avoid distracted driving so that they can be role models for safe behavior. These tips may include telling friends they can't drive them home from school, taking the bus, asking for a ride if they're too tired to drive, etc.

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