Texting Is Dangerous, Risky Distraction for Teen Drivers

The 2011 annual federal survey about risky teenage behaviors showed several areas of significant improvement in dangerous driving practices, but texting or e-mailing while driving is a huge exception.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as the CDC, released the findings from the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, or YRBS. While the survey targets many areas of high risk behavior, car accidents are an important focus because they are the most common cause of U.S. teen death. According to the CDC, more than one-third of teen deaths are from motor-vehicle crashes.

The 2011 survey shows, in particular, that about one-third of high school students responding admitted to texting or e-mailing while driving in the past 30 days. This was the first year the agency had included this question, not surprising considering the recent explosion in this type of electronic communication among young people.

Typing on a cell phone while driving takes eyes, hands, and concentration away from the primary task of driving safely, putting the driver, other passengers, other vehicles, pedestrians, bikers and motorcyclists all at high risk of an accident.

On a more positive note, some risky driving behaviors have improved. For example, more teens wear seat belts, fewer kids get in the car if the driver has been drinking alcohol and fewer drive drunk.

Source: Reuters, “One-third of US teens report texting while driving-CDC,” David Beasley, June 8, 2012

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