Texting while driving has officially surpassed drinking and driving as the leading cause of death from motor vehicle collisions among teenagers.
The number of teen deaths and injuries as a result of texting and driving crashes has reached new highs as more and more young people use mobile devices.
According to researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated number of teen deaths from texting and driving is 3,000 per year, compared to around 2,700 who die after driving drunk. The number of injuries is also greater among those texting compared to those drinking, with 300,000 texting-and-driving injuries and 282,000 drinking-and-driving injuries.
In addition to the increased numbers of phone users, the data is also a result of a dramatic decline in drunk driving among adolescents. Additionally, drinking is typically a behavior that most teens engage in only occasionally, while texting is a daily activity.
A team of researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center also found about 49% of boys and 45% of girls aged 15 to 18 admitted to texting while driving. They also discovered that older teens were more likely to engage in the risky behavior, with 58% of 18-year-olds acknowledging that they do it regularly.
Typing and engaging in texted conversation is especially dangerous compared to other distracted driving habits. The activity involves manual, visual, and mental distractions, all at the same time.
Adolescents aren’t the only drivers endangering themselves and others with mobile devices. Other research has found that up to one-third of adult drivers aged 30 to 64 admitted to sending text messages while driving.
Another recent study revealed the ineffectiveness of laws prohibiting texting and driving among adolescent drivers. Comparing states with laws to states without them, researchers found an insignificant difference in the numbers of teens taking the risk.
Ricks D. Study: Texting while driving now leading cause of death for teen drivers. Newsday May 8, 2013. www.newsday.com.