Texting While Driving Now Responsible For More Teen Deaths Than Drunk Driving

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

Texting while driving has now replaced drunk driving as the number one cause of death among US teenagers, according to new research from the Cohen Children´s Medical Center of New York.

According to the study, more than 3,000 teens die each year as a result of sending SMS messages while operating a motor vehicle. In comparison, approximately 2,700 are killed as a result of driving while under the influence of alcohol, CBS New York reported on Thursday.

“The reality is kids aren´t drinking seven days per week — they are carrying their phones and texting seven days per week, so you intuitively know this a more common occurrence,” Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Cohen Children´s Medical Center and the lead author of the study, told CBS News reporter Carolyn Gusoff.

Furthermore, Adesman reported the study has discovered that laws prohibiting texting while driving have not proven effective at keeping teens from doing so. More than half (57 percent) of all boys said they have texted while driving in states where doing so is illegal, and 59 percent said they have sent SMS messages while driving in states where there are no such laws. In total, the research revealed half of all high school kids who drive admit they have texted while operating their car, truck or van, Gusoff said.

The study results come as lawmakers have been pushing for stricter punishments for driving while distracted and experts look for alternative ways to keep young drivers from texting. According to Suzannah Hills of the Daily Mail, some US schools have started offering classes designed to instruct students about the dangers of texting while driving, and others have developed simulations that demonstrate what could happen to distracted drivers.

According to Hills, officials in the UK are also looking for possible measures to keep drivers from sending or receiving text messages while operating an automobile. There, legislators are planning to increase fines for driving while texting by 50 percent, to £90 (approximately $138 US). The harsher penalties, which include three license points, will also apply to other forms of careless driving, such as tailgating or eating while driving.

Previous research conducted by Alexandra Bailin, also of the Cohen Children´s Medical Center, found approximately 43 percent of driving-age high-school students who responded to a 2011 survey admitted they had driven while texting at least once during the previous 30 days. They also reported the risk of a texting driver being involved in a wreck is 23 times the normal accident rate.