Texting Tops Risky Behaviors in Teen Drivers | Belt, Bruner & Barnett

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Teen Drivers: Texting Tops Risky Behaviors

May 16, 2013 | Car Accidents

Text messaging while driving is such a major distraction that the Alabama State Legislature passed a bill banning texting while driving in an attempt to curb its growth in our state and the potential for injury or death, says Alabama car crash attorney Keith T. Belt.

In a national survey of high school students, nearly half of the teen responders said they text while driving, a practice that appears to increase the likelihood of other risky behaviors, including drinking and driving.

In a national survey of teens 16 or older, almost half of the responders (44.5%) said they had texted while driving at least once in the previous month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues reported in Pediatrics.

Compared with teens who did not text while behind the wheel, texting teen drivers were more likely to drink and drive, accept a ride from a drinking driver and fail to use seat belts.

The authors analyzed responses from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which surveys 8,505 students 16 or older from a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school students. The voluntary survey, conducted every two years since 1991, includes participants attending public and private high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The survey found that likelihood of texting behind the wheel increased with age — 33% of 16-year-olds said they texted while driving versus 58% of teens 18 or older. White teens were more likely to text while driving than age-matched black teens and more boys said they texted while driving than girls.

Strategies to reduce texting while driving and other risky motor vehicle behaviors may include state laws and technological advances, although parental supervision of their teenage drivers may be the most effective prevention strategy. Graduated drivers’ licenses — a model used in some states that limit teens to driving only during daylight hours or only when an adult driver accompanies them — may be an effective tool for reducing the risk of car accidents among teens.

Pediatricians and family physicians advised parents to talk to their teenagers about learning CPR. Since usually, they are the first ones at the scene, and could actually do a lot to prevent morbidity and mortality if they know what to do if someone is injured.

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