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Teen Drivers Not Heeding Warnings About Texting While Driving

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According to a study, texting while driving is responsible for more deaths than drunk driving.
Robert F. Bukaty
According to a study, texting while driving is responsible for more deaths than drunk driving.

If you spend any amount of time behind the wheel of a car, the results of a new study may not surprise you: nearly half of high school students admit to texting while driving.

Despite all the warnings about how dangerous it is and all the efforts to convince teenagers to keep two hands on the wheel and drive, 44 percent of high schoolers 16 and older reported texting while driving, in a study released today in the journal Pediatrics. Those who texted while driving also were more likely to behave in other risky ways, like driving drunk or not wearing a seatbelt.

"Teenage brains are not fully developed to understand the risk of injuries or death, so they take risks thinking it s never going to happen to them, or that they can handle it," says Julie Kettner, who works with the National Organizations for Youth Safety.

Her group is trying to curb the practice of distracted driving through public awareness campaigns targeting teenagers and parents.

"I see even parent-friends of mine texting while they have their children in the car, and parental role modeling and enforcement can create the change and convince young people to abide by rules we are putting there to protect them," Kettner says.

A separate study by the Cohen Children Medical Center in New York found that texting while driving has replaced drunk driving as the number one cause of teenage deaths on the road, with 300,000 teeangers injured and 3,000 killed annually.

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