April 29th, 2012
12:01 PM ET
News flash: Texting while driving can have serious, catastrophic consequences.
All sarcasm aside, you will most likely have heard this message by now and seen the PSA's meant to convince you that this is a bad idea. You've heard that many states ban texting while driving and hopefully are heeding the warnings. But some of the youngest drivers still don't realize that it is a problem.
Some teens, however, do and are taking matters into their own hands.
Determined to educate their peers about on the dangers of texting while driving, a group of student leaders in Oklahoma started Generation tXt.
They focus on those recently behind the wheel for the first time.
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine advised the students while the teens conducted a study among thirty young adults, ages 15-19.
More than half had been driving less than a year. They shared one commonality - they were all proficient in texting.
"They [teenagers in general] know it's dangerous," said Dr. Mark D. Fox, who advised the teens. "They know it's their No. 1 distraction and they continue to do it."
Fox said 80% of them "admit at least occasionally that they will text while driving."
"The risk is that if you ban texting while driving, people will still do it, they'll just hide it below the level of the dashboard, which then diverts their eyes down and may put them more at risk," added Fox.
For the study, the students drove using simulators. The number of crashes with other cars and pedestrians were measured, along with the amount of near collisions and other infractions.
The young drivers swerved between lanes and had more wrecks and near misses when texting, regardless if the phone was placed out of sight or not.
Glade Inhofe, a high school student and the main author, said the results show there is no 'safe' or 'better' position. Out of sight does not equal out of mind.
Other new research from the University of Washington finds that compulsive cell phone use - simply anticipating calls and messages - was significantly associated with prior crashes among undergraduate students.
The message: you don't have to be actively texting or talking to be headed for the danger zone.
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