Teen drivers have long faced higher accident rates than other drivers. They get into more car crashes and they die in fatal car accidents more often than older drivers. A new study has revealed that one of the behaviors tied to teen car accidents may now be the leading cause of death for teen drivers. The research suggests that sending and reading text messages while driving has now passed drinking and driving in terms of the number of teen drivers it kills.
Cohen’s Children Medical Center researchers have estimated that texting and driving leads to more than 3,000 deaths among teens every year. The group estimates that texting causes more than 300,000 injuries among teens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that drinking and driving, long the number one killer of teens in driving accidents, claims 2,700 lives and leads to 282,000 injuries in motor vehicle accidents per year. If both sets of estimates are correct, texting is now the most dangerous behavior engaged in by teen drivers.
Texting and driving is a common behavior among teens. The recent research indicated that 49 percent of male drivers between 15 and 18 years of age admitted to texting behind the wheel. The number was 45 percent for female drivers in that age group. While texting seems to be growing more popular, drinking and driving has seen a 54 percent decrease among teens since 1991, according to the CDC.
Drinking and texting both have a negative impact on a person’s ability to drive. When combined with the inexperience of a teen driver, either behavior can lead to deadly results. Young drivers need to understand the dangers of distracted and impaired driving. We all need to do a better job of encouraging safe driving behaviors in young people.
Source: Newsday, “Study: Texting while driving now leading cause of death for teen drivers,” by Delthia Ricks, 8 May 2013