July 11, 2007

“Alarmingly high” number of teens text-messaging behind the wheel – survey

Orlando, Florida – An alarmingly high number of U.S. teenaged drivers are engaging in risky behaviour while driving, including sending and reading text messages, according to a new survey by the American Automobile Association (AAA) and Seventeen magazine.

The survey shows that 61 per cent of teenagers admitted to risky driving. Of that number, 46 per cent said they text-message while driving, while 51 per cent talk on cell phones. The report surveyed more than 1,000 drivers age 16 and 17.

“Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one killer of teens, claiming more than 6,000 15- to 20-year-olds each year,” says William Van Tassel, manager of AAA Driver Training. “Inexperience behind the wheel, coupled with poor decision-making ability make it even more important for teens to stay focused when driving. Their attention should not be divided among phones, friends and the road.”

Driver distraction is a factor in 25 to 50 per cent of all crashes, but 58 per cent of respondents said they drive with their friends in the car. The research also revealed that 40 per cent of teens exceed the speed limit by 10 mph (16 km/h) or more while driving, while 11 per cent admit to drinking or using other drugs before getting behind the wheel.

AAA suggests that parents ensure that teenagers drive during daylight hours on familiar roads, and without teenaged passengers; parents can also be positive role models by exhibiting good behaviour and driving skills, including obeying speed limits, being courteous to other drivers, and avoiding the use of electronic devices while driving.

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