Texting and driving more dangerous than drunk driving for teens

With Ohio's spring weather inviting more drivers to take to the road, more teenage drivers will be behind the wheel. May and June are historically dangerous months for teen drivers as they frequently go to proms and graduation parties. However, teen drivers are subject to a number of dangers, including excessive speed, drunk driving, and distracted driving.

According to a recent study, texting while driving has become more hazardous than drinking and driving. This is because many teens openly acknowledge sending and reading texts while in traffic, driving on city streets and on open highways.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 2,700 teens lose their lives each year due to drunk driving accidents, while 282,000 are injured in such crashes. Texting while driving accidents have surpassed these numbers, with more than 3,000 kids killed and 300,000 injuries occurring in accidents related to distracted driving.

The proliferation of interactive systems in new cars may exacerbate the situation. Each of the American automakers (Ford, General Motors, Chrysler) has new offerings to lure young drivers. Essentially they will be able to send voice-enabled text messages, access music stored on smartphones, and receive texts through these systems. These can lead to further distractions that can cause accidents.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has had several meetings with automakers on the topic of distracted driving, and they have basically told him that they will continue to work with the federal government to minimize safety risks. However, safety ultimately begins with frank, honest discussions between parents and teens about when (and how) cell phones may be used while driving.

Source: Newsday.com, Study: Texting while driving now the leading cause of death for teen drivers, May 8, 2013

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