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Report: One third of teens are texting while driving

Despite the increased publicity over the dangers of texting while driving, many teenagers – and their parents – have yet to get the message.

According to a report issued by Pew Research, fully one-third of cell phone users aged 16 and 17 admitted to texting while driving. Among passengers, 48 percent of teens 12 to 17 said they have been in a car while the driver was texting, and 40 per cent have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put everyone in danger.

In focus groups, teens reported a variety of motivations for texting while driving, including the need to report their whereabouts to friends and parents, getting directions, and flirting with significant others.

According to the latest research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2008 there were 5,870 fatalities and an estimated 515,000 people injured in crashes where at least one form of driver distraction was reported. Young drivers are of particular concern, as the highest incidence of distracted driving occurs in the under-20 age group.

Although the report only surveyed teens 12-17, adults were clearly part of the larger problem. "My mom, sister and brother will sit behind the wheel the whole time and just text away," reported one middle school-aged boy. "My dad drives like he's drunk, " said a tenth grader. "His phone is just like sitting right in front of his face and he puts his knees on the bottom of the steering wheel and tries to text."

And texting is not the only culprit when it comes to distracted driving. Global Positioning Systems are also responsible for taking a driver's eyes off the road, particularly when they are accessed via smartphones or other handheld devices.

Despite the wide publicity given to distracted driver accidents and studies that highlight the dangers, many teens remain almost nonchalant about the risks. "It really doesn't bother me," wrote one high school boy. "I've made and received calls almost every time I've driven."

When it came to being at risk as a passenger, teens had a variety of responses. Some were angry about being endangered. Others were less concerned. "I worry about if they can do it," said one boy. "I usually watch the road when it happens and tell them if they're going off the road or something. I don't really care though."

Comment by John Rob, posted 11/26/2009, 8:41 AM:

Life is more precious than reading a text message. Mobile application from drivesafe.ly helps you to concentrate on the road while making sure you are connected.
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