Nearly half of teenaged drivers text while driving

May 14, 2013

Nearly half of all teenaged drivers in the United States admit to texting while driving (TWD). What makes that statistic even more alarming is that for the first time a national study links TWD with other high-risk driving behaviors.

 

Nearly half of all teenaged drivers in the United States admit to texting while driving (TWD). What makes that statistic even more alarming is that for the first time a national study links TWD with other high-risk driving behaviors, placing teenaged drivers, their passengers, and others on the road at dramatically higher risk of injury and death.

According to the latest study on the matter, 45% of US high school students aged 16 years or older report texting or e-mailing while driving during the previous 30 days. Those who do so are 16% more likely than nontexting counterparts to not wear a seat belt and 74% more likely to ride with a driver who has been drinking alcohol.

Perhaps most alarming is that teenagers who practice TWD are more than 5 times as likely to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel as those who do not report TWD. The relationships between the behaviors strengthen as the frequency of TWD increases.

Researchers reviewed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, to assess TWD among a nationally representative sample of 8,505 students.

The results are particularly disturbing considering that teenagers already have the highest rate of fatal car crashes and the lowest rate of seat-belt use among all age groups, according to reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Furthermore, texting is associated with the highest risk of all sources of driving distraction, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Distraction from TWD raises a driver’s risk of crashing by 23 times. It entails an average of 4.6 seconds of eyes-off-road time, equating to a driver traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph without looking at the road.