Teens Who Text While Driving More Likely to Take Other Risks: Study

A new report warns that teens who text while driving are more likely than their peers to engage in even riskier driving behavior, like drinking or not wearing a seat belt.  

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study on May 13 in the online edition of Pediatrics, which found that nearly half of all high school teens had engaged in sending text messages from cell phones while driving within a month’s time.

Those teens also engage in other behaviors that increase their risk of being injured or killed in an auto accident, according to the report.

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Researchers looked at data from the CDC’s 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which interviewed 8,505 high school students 16 or older. They found that 44.5% texted while driving a month before the survey. The same drivers were 16% more likely not to always wear a seatbelt, 74% more likely to ride with a driver who was intoxicated, and more than five times as likely to drink and drive themselves.

“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 [motor vehicle] behaviors,” researchers concluded.

In a 2010 report in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers indicated that auto accident deaths related to cell phone use and texting while driving have increased 28%; from 4,572 deaths in 2005 to 5,870 in 2008. Texting-while-driving has killed an estimated 16,000 people from 2001 through 2007.

The latest study came out just days after a study by the National Safety Council suggested that crashes linked to cellphone use were likely heavily under reported in the United States.

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