Thursday, June 21, 2012

Teens and Texting: A problem that isn’t going away

 Photo credit: Edbrown05 via Wikimedia Commons
Summer is finally here, at least according to the calendar. While we hope everyone has a fun and safe summer, this is a good time to remind our readers about a few roadway realities.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20-year-olds in the U.S. Their inexperience behind the wheel is a major contributor to crashes involving teenage drivers and too many of them engage in extremely risky and distracting behavior while driving. According to a recent survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 6 out of 10 high school seniors admitted to texting or emailing while behind the wheel in the last 30 days.

Teens are far more likely to be involved in a car crash than any other age group. Texting while driving greatly increases that risk. Since texting is a relatively new technology, the data is still being collected. However, some early research suggests texting while driving is more dangerous than driving impaired.

Most states have adopted legislation to help reduce vehicle collisions involving teens. Texting while driving is illegal for all drivers in 39 states, including Washington. Five other states have texting bans in effect for teen drivers.

Washington’s Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program was recently credited for contributing to the 62 percent decrease in child injury deaths in King County. GDL programs allow young drivers more time to gain that valuable experience behind the wheel without the distraction of friends in the car. GDL license holders under the age of 18 are also prohibited from using cell phones while driving. This includes talking (even with a hands free device) and texting.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.