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Teens Not Deterred from Texting While Driving Despite Public Safety Attempts

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Despite campaigns, PSAs and other tactics to get teens to stop texting and driving, it seems we aren't getting through to the younger generation the dangers of distracted driving. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for this age group, and texting while driving has been found to raise the risk of crashes by 23 times. This has led many to conclude that texting while driving may be more dangerous in terms of the risk of a crash than driving while intoxicated.

Alexandra Bailin and her colleagues at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York recently conducted a study on teenagers and texting while driving. They analyzed 2011 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey which includes over 7,000 high school students old enough to drive in their state. The Centers for Disease Control collects the data every two years to monitor the six top health-risk behaviors among U.S. youth. But 2011 was the first time that the CDC collected data on texting while driving behavior.

Overall, the study conducted by Bailin and colleagues found that males were most likely to text and drive, and that the prevalence of texting while driving increased with age (in the teen years). The researchers also found that teens that were more likely to text and drive were also more likely to engage in other risky behaviors like unprotected sex, using indoor tanning beds, and driving while intoxicated. Sadly, the researchers also found that state bans on texting while driving had little effect. They advocate technologies to significantly reduce the prevalence of texting while driving for teens.