An alarming number of teens text while driving.
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Nearly 50 percent of the high school students surveyed in a study admit they engage in texting while driving.
The study also finds teens who text and drive are more likely to engage in other risky business behind the wheel, putting themselves and others in danger.
Texting while driving rampant
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) surveyed more than 8500 high school students under age 16. Nearly half reported texting while driving within the past 30 days.
The study found that the teens were also more likely to engage in other risky behavior in cars, including:
- Drinking and driving
- Riding with a driver who’d been drinking
- Not wearing seatbelts
Researchers said all these factors put the teens, their passengers and others on the road for a greater risk of a crash. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for kids ages 16 to 19 in the United States, according to the CDC.
A sense of invincibility
Kate Eshleman, PsyD, did not take part in the study but is a child psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. She says she’s not surprised kids who take risks in one area take risks in others.
“Kids think they’re invincible,” says Dr. Eshleman. “They don’t think through the risks and even if they think there’s a risk, they think it’s not going to happen to them.”
Parents need to set example
The study says parental supervision is the most effective strategy for preventing teens from texting behind the wheel. Parents should set up “house driving rules” for their newly licensed kids.
They can set an example, too, by not texting or talking on their cell phones while driving.
“The most important way is to model good behavior,” says Dr. Eshleman. “If you don’t want your kids to text while driving — or if you want them to wear their seatbelt — make sure you are doing the same thing.”