"Don't do a thousand things in your car!" the Disney Channel actress, 16, told PEOPLE on Saturday while filming a PSA for State Farm Insurance about the importance of being a reliable driver. "In the car, just focus on what you need to be doing."
In a world that is "multitasking constantly," says Gomez, drivers – especially teens – should put down their cell phones and keep both hands on the wheel. According to statistics, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers.
The Wizards of Waverly Place star, who has her permit but hopes to get her license in July (when she turns 17), isn't nervous about driving but says she'll have to make some sacrifices when it comes to her BlackBerry.
"I'm going to try to put my phone on silent," she says. "You can tell yourself, 'I'm not going to get it,' but once you hear it you get tempted and distracted. So for me ... I'll put it on silent, put it in my purse and just drive."
In the PSA, which was shot with her mom, Mandy, Gomez also highlights a few more tips and reminders for teen drivers: refrain from texting, always wear a seatbelt and don’t get distracted by having too many people in the car.
"I've almost been in wrecks because of people [using phones while driving], she recalls. "I'll sit there and look at someone and go, 'Gosh! She completely almost ran into us,' then look at her and see she's on the phone. That's the reason!"
As for sitting in the driver's seat herself, Gomez, who previously joked she wouldn't get her license until she turned 30, said she's been practicing how to parallel park in her Ford Escape Hybrid with her stepfather because "my mom's too scared to teach me!"
Is she having fun?
"As much fun as it can be, people need to learn what a big responsibility it is," she says. "You're never too young to learn about safe driving"
The PSA will air on the Disney Channel and can be viewed on State Farm Insurance's Web site in March.
Chris Chavira / Disney