Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Teens Who Text and Drive Likely to Take Other Risks

Half of Teens Surveyed Said They Text While Driving

Parents of teen-agers take note: If your teen is texting while driving, chances are that he or she is also engaging in other risky driving behavior that could lead to an accident.

A new study published this week says that teens who text while driving are more likely not to be wearing a seat belt, ride with a driver who’s been drinking, or to drink and drive themselves.

That’s not all. About half of teen-agers surveyed admitted to texting while driving.

All of these factors suggest that teens may be placing themselves at a substantially higher risk than previously thought.

Motor Vehicle Crashes Leading Cause of Death for Teens

As it is, the leading cause of death among teens ages 16 to 19 are motor vehicle crashes, killing about 3,000 teens a year.

Researchers applauded efforts such as graduated licenses for teen-agers (limited driving rights for younger teens) but said the most effective preventative strategies start with parents. They say parents should forbid their teen-agers from texting while driving, and set forth a strong example by not texting while driving themselves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a comprehensive list of things parents can do, including providing their teen with a parent-teen driving agreement.

Florida's teen driving laws

Florida’s laws as they apply to teen-age drivers include the following stipulations:

  • A learner’s permit forbids teens from driving after sunset for the first three months and, after, not after 10 p.m.
  • Fifty hours of supervised driving, with ten of those hours at night, are required for learner’s permit holders.
  • The minimum age for a permit holder is 15 and the minimum age is 16 for a driver’s license with restrictions. 
  • Unsupervised driving for licensed drivers is not permitted between 11 pm and 6 am for 16-year-olds and between 1 am and 5 am for 17-year-olds. 

The study was published online this week in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers used data from the 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey assessed the driving-texting behavior among 8,505 students ages 16 years old and up.

You can find the study here.

Photo credit: Highway Patrol Images

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