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Texting while driving: a big factor in teen accidents

In a recent post, we discussed a report, published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) on October 12, 2016, which shows that teen drivers are 1.6 times as likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident.

The report discusses a number of factors that contribute to this increased risk, including seatbelt usage, alcohol consumption and speeding. However, one factor stands out as being particularly prevalent in cases of teen driving accidents, as outlined in a recent article in the Charleston Post and Courier.

Studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, cited by both the GHSA and the Post and Courier, have found that distractions behind the wheel contribute to nearly 60 per cent of teen crashes. Even more astonishingly, studies show that texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving, accounting for a quarter of all car accidents in the United States.

In 2014, texting or emailing while behind the wheel was made illegal for all drivers in North Carolina. Additionally, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited by law from using a cell phone for any reason, including making hands-free voice calls, while operating a vehicle. Unfortunately, many teens don't consider their phone usage to be a problem; in response to a 2011 Ad Council survey, 55 per cent of teen drivers said that they can easily text while driving.

Organizations such as the AAA Foundation, the National Safety Council and Drop It and Drive have increased the visibility of anti-texting and driving messages, and numerous initiatives have been launched to educate teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, including the Ad Council's own "Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks." Hopefully, these efforts will help to bring down the rate of teen motor vehicle accidents in the long term.

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