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Distracted driving among teens may be worse than we thought

Earlier this week, we wrote about new government data showing that the auto accident fatality rate rose last year for the first time since 2005. While there are probably many factors that contributed to the uptick in road deaths, there is little doubt that distracted driving was significant among them.

Teenagers are not the only motorists who drive distracted, but recent research suggests that texting and other cellphone use behind the wheel is especially prominent among this age group. The results of a nationwide survey given to nearly 8,000 high school students in 2011 reveals that 43 percent of driving-age teens admitted to texting behind the wheel at least once during the previous month.

The survey, which was administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, attempted to track the kinds of risky behaviors that cause or contribute to social problems, disability and death among America's youth. According to the results, 46 percent of male respondents admitted to texting and driving, while the rate among female respondents was 40 percent.

Also concerning is the discovery that distracted driving seems to increase with age throughout the teenage years. Among 15-year-olds, the distracted driving rate was just 26 percent. The rates climbed with each passing year, topping out at 52 percent among 18-year-old drivers.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, teenagers who engage in distracted driving were also more likely to participate in other dangerous behaviors including drunk driving and having unprotected sex. But even if we put those other risks aside, the alarming number of teens who drive distracted suggests that this is a problem that demands immediate and significant attention. Until or unless this happens, the lives and safety of all drivers are at risk.

Source: RedOrbit.com, "Despite Bans And Warnings, Teens Continue To Text And Drive," May 5, 2013

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