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Txting and driving among teens.

April 14, 2014

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and what better way to bring awareness than to talk about the dangers of texting and driving among teens? Studies show that a large number of accidents can be attributed to distracted driving, more specifically, texting and driving. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am guilty of this, too. There have been several times that I have caught myself texting or emailing while driving, only to find myself barely escaping what could have been an accident. And every time, I tell myself, “That was a close one. I am never picking up my phone again while driving.”

Here’s the thing. I’m not the only one on the road guilty of this. What’s even scarier is that many teens have admitted to texting while driving. And yet, these teens are still learning how to drive and getting comfortable with the road.

Let’s look at the shocking numbers from an article published by ScienceDaily:

  • In 2011, 43% of high school students who had their license admitted to texting while driving at least once in the past 30 days.
  • The prevalence of texting while driving increases with age.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens. Teen drivers are four times likelier to crash than adult drivers.
  • The specific act of texting while driving is found to increase the risk of an accident by 23 times. Many even conclude that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated!

What can we do about it?

Many states are taking action against texting and driving. As of 2012, there are 10 states that prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, 32 states that prohibit novice drivers from using cell phones, and 39 states that prohibit the specific act of texting while driving. If you live in a state where the use of cell phones while driving has been banned, you may be thinking your teen is safer than those who live in states that do not have this law in place. But guess what? State laws are not enough. Studies show that 39% of teens reported texting while driving in states where it is illegal, versus 44% of teens in states that have no restrictions.

This is where parents have the responsibility to teach their teen about the dangers of texting and driving to help keep kids safe. Here are some suggestions given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Talk with your teen about the dangers of texting and driving
  • Express your concern for your teen’s safety and well-being
  • Keep the conversation going over time
  • Extend your teen’s supervised driving time
  • Set the “rules of the road”
  • Enforce rules with a Parent-Teen Driving Contract
For parents who are worried that their teen might be prone to texting while driving, there is technology available to help ensure that your teen keeps his or her eyes on the road. A great example of this is AT&T’s DriveMode app. It is a free app for Android and Blackberry that sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts, letting friends know that you are driving and will reply when it is safe.

You may have seen it already, but I came across this video recently that was posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to help bring awareness to distracted driving and the potential consequences of this deadly behavior. According to distraction.gov, at any given daylight moment across the United States, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.

How many times will I continue to narrowly escape an accident? What if the next time I’m not so lucky?

What about you? What about your teenager?

In honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, I am committed to eliminating texting (and emailing) while driving. As parents, encourage your teenager to do the same. Because the reality is, texting while driving can be deadly.

 

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