Survey Says Half of Teen Drivers Text While Driving

We’ve recently written posts about the problems with texting behind the wheel and other distractions common while driving. We’ve also blogged about teen drivers and some of the deadly situations that result when inexperienced drivers fail to comprehend the dangers of thrill-seeking. But what happens when you combine the two?

A recent government survey found that more than half of high school seniors regularly text while driving. In fact, according to the data collected, almost 58 percent of high school seniors admitted to texting or emailing while behind the wheel of the car in the last month. High school juniors have similar habits, with 43 percent also acknowledging sending or receiving electronic messages while driving.

The survey is the first time the federal government has sought to collect statistics regarding teens and texting while driving. The number one cause of teenage deaths is motor vehicle accidents, and distracted driving is involved in at least 16 percent of these fatalities.

The release of the survey results coincide with the a Department of Transportation news conference in which the DOT announced new pilot projects aimed at curbing distracted driving. During the conference Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “We need to teach kids, who are the most vulnerable drivers, that texting and driving don’t mix.”

In addition to the federal pilot project, most states have taken it upon themselves to enact laws to deter teen distracted driving. Forty-six states now have laws banning texting while driving for novice drivers – 39 of those states ban texting behind the wheel for all drivers. And officials are enforcing the laws. In the last two months, teenage drivers in Missouri and Massachusetts were sentenced to serve jail time for their involvement in fatal car accidents involving texting.

Source: USA, “CDC: Older teens often text while behind the wheel,” 6/12/12.