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What are the dangers of texting while driving for teens?

In 2014, distracted driving motor vehicle collisions injured over 400,000 people and killed 3,179 in the United States. Teens and drivers in their 20s together make up more than half of the drivers who caused distracted driving collisions.

Drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision. It takes you twice as long to react to something while driving when you are texting. Sending or reading a text typically takes a driver’s eyes off the road for a minimum of 4.6 seconds. A lot can happen in that short period of time.

The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day have become known as the “100 deadliest days” for teen drivers on the road. More than 1 in 5 teens have admitted to texting while driving at least once, although this number is almost certainly higher.

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Surveys report that 97% of teens admit that texting while driving is dangerous, they still do it. Approximately 43% of teens admit to texting while driving. What's most troubling is that 77% of teens have admitted to watching their parents text and drive. According to these surveys, parents aren't setting a good example. Texting and driving is a dangerous trend and it's leading to life-altering injuries and death.

The number one killer of teens is motor accidents and the cell phone isn't helping. This year there have been an estimated 948,882 crashes involving drivers using cell phones and texting. Annually, 21% of fatal car accidents involving teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 were the direct result of cell phone usage. This statistic is predicted to increase as much as 4% every year. You may be thinking, "not my teen." But what about the friend who's driving her? Well, about 48% of Americans ages 12 to 17 report that they have been in a car when the driver was texting. Now that's not a comforting thought for a parent.

Did you know that texting while driving is to blame for...

  • 1,600,000 accidents per year – National Safety Council
  • 330,000 injuries per year – Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study
  • 11 teen deaths every day – Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts

Did you know that texting while driving...

  • Makes you 23 times more likely to be in an accident – National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
  • Is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time, that's like traveling the length of a football field while going 55 miles per hour. – Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
  • Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% – Human Factors & Ergonomics Society

So what can you do to ensure your teens safety?

  • Parents lead by example. Don’t talk on the phone or text when you’re operating a vehicle.
  • Have teens lock that phone in the trunk or glove compartment. This may be somewhat Piagetian, but out of sight, out of mind.
  • If they aren't going to put it away, then teach them the importance of pulling off the road and parking the car to respond.
  • Just like getting in the car with someone who's been drinking, the same concept applies to getting in a car with a texter. Don't do it.
  • Still have the urge? Then there are some Smartphone apps to help.
  • Sign a pledge along with your teen to not text and drive.
  • Sit with your teen and watch "The Last Text ".
    Shawn Edgington
    Pediatrics
    In case of an emergency, having a cell phone in your teenager's car while they are on the road is a prudent decision to make, but distracted driving kills more than 6,000 people a year and injures another 500,000. The following are statistics about texting when driving:
    • According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, those who text while driving increase their risk of an accident by 50 percent.
    • Drivers who talk or text while driving have much slower response times than those who don't. According to the University of Utah, they have slower reaction times than drivers whose blood-alcohol levels are at 0.08.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.