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California teens continue to text while they drive

Cars speeding by, rain hitting the windshield, animals dodging across the road -- these are all distractions that can happen as someone drives from one place to the next. But what happens when cell phones are thrown into the mix? Add texting and other phone use to the already distracted driving and the end result could be a deadly car accident.

In California, people are relying more and more on their cell phones in their everyday lives. While cell phone use is high among all ages, teenagers tend to be more attached to their phones than any other age group. In a survey performed on more than 1,000 people aged 16 to 21, 47 percent responded that they do indeed drive while talking on a non-hands free cell phone. Furthermore, 27 percent of that same group admitted to texting while they drive.

While admitting their participation in texting while driving, many also agreed that their actions were not safe. Teenagers may rate high in terms of people who text while they drive, but they also listen to their friends more than any other age group. In the same survey, half of the young drivers said the likelihood of using their phone while driving decreases when they are riding with friends.

It may be that instead of talking on their cell phones, they are talking to their friends who are actually in the car, or it could be peer pressure, as 49 percent of teens say they have, for safety purposes, asked their peers to put down their phones while driving.

However, a shadow was cast on this information when another survey was conducted that showed people under the age of 20 were less likely to speak out and ask their driver to put down their phones than were people in their 20s and older.

In 2010, there were 3,115 traffic fatalities involving teens. Of these accidents, 11 percent were linked to distracted driving. Driving with friends or not, the predicament continues to exist: teens in California and elsewhere are still texting while they drive.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Can teens prevent friends from texting and driving?" Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, May 30, 2012

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