Survey: More than half of teens text while driving
Think your teen would never text while driving? More than half of high school seniors admitted in a government survey that they’ve done just that.
It’s the first time the question was asked in a teen poll on risky behavior, and the finding comes amid a renewed federal crackdown on distracted driving.
About 58 percent of high school seniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month.
About 43 percent of high school juniors acknowledged they did the same thing.
The findings released Thursday are the first federal statistics on how common the dangerous habit is among teens. Distracted driving deaths are most common among teens, blamed for about 16 percent of teen motor vehicle deaths.
Focusing on a cellphone instead of the road leads to delayed reaction times, swerving and other lapses with sometimes fatal consequences, experts say.
For the survey, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year questioned more than 15,000 public and private high school students across the country. Some earlier studies had suggested teen texting while driving was becoming common, though perhaps not quite so high.
The numbers aren’t really surprising, said Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center in Washington.
A typical teen sends and receives about 100 text messages a day, and it’s the most common way many kids communicate with their peers.
“A lot of teens say ‘Well, if the car’s not moving and I’m at a stoplight or I’m stuck in traffic, that’s OK,’ ” said Lenhart, who has done focus groups with teens on the topic.
Other teens acknowledge that it’s not safe, but they think it is safer if they hold the phone up so they can see the road and text at the same time, she said.