Shocking new statistics expose the risks of texting while driving, and your teen may be at the greatest risk. We all know that young drivers make poor decisions, but recent studies show just how deadly a decision it can be to text while driving, and how alarmingly often teens do it.
A study released in 2009 by a University of Utah researcher found that texting drivers are six times more likely to crash. Another 2009 study, done by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, found that texting truck drivers are 23 times more likely to crash or to have a “near crash” event.
Why are these statistics so critical? Because, according to the Utah researcher, 60 percent of teens text while driving, and they send or receive an average of 97 texts per day. When coupled with CDC statistics which show that motor vehicle crashes kill an average of nine teens every day, the numbers become very disturbing.
Some common-sense suggestions for keeping your teen driver safe:
- Don’t just ban cell phone use in the car, set an example for your teen.
- Monitor your teen’s texting habits – they might not like it, but you pay the bill.
- Limit the number of young passengers with your teen. Teens tend to take more risks in the company of peers.
- Limit the times during which you allow your teen to drive. Most teen crashes occur at night and social events increase the frequency of texting.
Because the part of the brain which is responsible for planning and decision making is not fully developed in teens, even the most responsible teens may still make bad decisions on the road. Until new technology helps to solve this problem (like automobile features that jam cellular phones while in operation), the best decision might just be to turn off your teen’s text service - the statistics leave no doubt that it would save lives.