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Teens who text and drive more likely to take other risks
May 13th, 2013
01:24 PM ET

Teens who text and drive more likely to take other risks

High school students who acknowledge texting while driving are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, such as riding with a driver who has been drinking alcohol; not wearing a seat belt; or drinking and driving themselves, according to a new study.

"This suggests there is a subgroup of students who may place themselves, their passengers and others on the road at elevated risk for a crash-related injury or fatality by engaging in multiple risky MV (motor vehicle) behaviors," wrote the authors of the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The study

Researchers analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which asked high school students whether they had texted while driving in the 30 days previous. Nearly half of the 8,505 students aged 16 or older who answered that question reported doing so. The survey also queried participants on behaviors such as wearing a seat belt or riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking.

The results

Students who engaged in texting while driving (TWD) regularly were more likely to wear seatbelts irregularly; ride with a driver who had been drinking alcohol; and drive when they had also been drinking alcohol, according to the study.

"For example, students who engaged in TWD on 10 to 19 days, 20 to 29 days, or all 30 days were more likely than students who engaged in TWD on 1 to 2 days to ride with a driver who had been drinking alcohol and drive when drinking alcohol," study authors wrote.

Students who said they had texted while driving on all 30 days were more than 40% more likely to not always wear a seat belt as a passenger than students who said they had texted while driving on 1 to 2 days.

Separate research suggests that teenagers know such behaviors are unsafe, but "teenagers who engage in these behaviors may tend to view them as being less of a safety risk than teenagers who do not engage in them," according to the study.

The limitations

The findings have several limitations, the study noted. Survey questions did not distinguish between sending, receiving or reading texts, "which may be perceived as having different levels of risk."

In addition, the question regarding riding with a driver who has been drinking did not distinguish between parents or peer drivers: "Students may perceive they had no choice whether to ride with a parent who had been drinking alcohol."

Lastly, the data is self-reported, and the "extent of underreporting or over reporting of TWD on this survey cannot be determined."

The takeaway

Strategies to reduce texting while driving and other risky behaviors may include state laws and advances in technology, according to the study. However, "parental supervision of their teenage drivers may be the  most effective prevention strategy," the study said.


soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Portland tony

    Teens with risky behavior patterns are likely to drive and text! Duhhhhh!

    May 13, 2013 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. nyepee

    Unfortunately probably the only way to reduce this is to make the parents liably for the teens' behavior. That may seem draconian but texting while driving is epidemic and we do not need anyone, teens or adults, putting themselves and others at unnecessary risk. Jail a few parents and I think the number of texting teens will start to diminish.

    May 13, 2013 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. smfradyyyy

    i agree with nyepee if we just started to throw the parents in jail the numbers of accidents and dead teens would drop fast. i have lost 7 close friends and family members to either texting and driving or drunk driving or being hit by a drunk driver. IT NEEDS TO STOP!!!!!!!!!!

    May 13, 2013 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • devin

      sorry. i meant to click reply but i hit report abuse. it was an accident

      May 14, 2013 at 15:06 | Report abuse |
  4. USA

    Get in the car & turn car on. THEN TURN CELL PHONE OFF! :-)

    May 14, 2013 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dave t

    Can a new partnership be developed between the automobile insurance companies, state driver's license regulators and families of teen drivers to prevent texting while driving? If you were to google "device to prevent texting and driving" you will find several websites on this subject. There are attachments that plugs into your cigarette lighter, as one example. You have to plug your cell phone into this attachment to even start your car. Without doing this, your car will not start. It is located far enough outside of reach of the teen driver. Thus help keep both hands of the driver securely on the steering wheel and not on the phone. There is another attachment to where if the car is moving faster than 10 MPH, the cell phone's text services is disabled. There is yet another attachment to the car, where it creates cell phone dead zones. So the driver will not get any text message rings. Thus distract the driver. There are also a dozen APPs that disable text services while driving as well.
    In many states, there are graduated drivers licenses for teen drivers. For one, young drivers are not permitted to have more than one passenger in the car they are driving. Thus it helps prevent many accidents. Can a new ruling be established,
    that requires all cars driven by these same young drivers, to have one of the devises mentioned above? However, it may be too expensive for families to outright purchase these devices.
    To make it more affordable, a new lease system could be established, so families can acquire these devices at more affordable costs. This lease would run for at least 2 years, before these young drivers earn a full right drivers license
    after age 18. Car insurance companies already offer discounts to students with good school
    standing. Can they do the same for all cars that has one of these devices that prevents texting while driving, as well?
    Perhaps these car insurances companies could pay part of the monthly leased costs of acquiring these devices. If the cost savings of accidents prevented more than makes up the extra spending for this program, then it would make perfect sense to implement.
    Do these concepts make any sense given the huge problem of young drivers texting while driving? Or am I missing something? Please let me know.

    May 18, 2013 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. amc-pm

    @nyepee and smfradyyyy:
    Jailing the parents will decrease the number of teens who text and drive - seriously? Do you have teenagers? Do you even know how a teenager thinks? Teenagers may make stupid choices, but they are by no means stupid. A teenager is fully aware that it is dangerous to drink and drive or text and drive or text, drink and drive. They just make the stupid decision to do it because they think that they are different from every other joker who does it and that they're reaction time and ability to pay attention to the road and everything around them will be different than everyone else's.
    Punish the parents for something their teenager does? Seriously? I still cannot wrap my head around the stupidity of that statement. So, when teenagers rape people and shoot people and threaten to blow up their schools, we should punish the parents for that too? Oh but what's that you say? "That's different?" HOW? How is vehicular manslaughter or dangerous driving causing serious injury or death any different? Why should the parents be the ones charged for those crimes but not for robbery, rape, murder, terrorism? Do you really think that would teach the teenagers anything? Do you know what it will teach them? "Well, I don't care if I kill someone because I'm texting while I'm driving because MOM AND DAD will get in trouble, not me".
    Congratulations. You're both idiots.

    June 10, 2013 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply

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