We all know texting and driving is bad, so why do people continue do it? There can be several reasons, one might say, “well everyone does it” or, “it will only take 5 seconds”. According to the CDC, in 2016 risky behaviors such as texting and driving killed over 2,400 teens ages 16-19 one of the highest age groups with 292,742 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents due to texting and driving. Teens who text and drive were 5 times more likely to experience a car crash than those that refrain from texting. Age and experience are another factor of higher rates of teens texting and driving. (CDC, 2019) Also, teens lack the experience and knowledge when is comes to dealing with hazards on and off the road. Some advocates have stated that texting and driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving. Obviously, teens in the age group of 14-19 don’t have access to alcohol, but they do have access to cell phones. With an increased of teens logging on and surfing social media sites such and Instagram, Facebook, Snap Chat, or just sending pictures, responding to a text or simply checking emails. All these forms are a distraction and might contribute to teens risk behavior.
Noticeably, most states prohibit teens with driving permits to operate a motor vehicle without a parent or guardian (or anyone with a valid state driver’s license). California’s minimum age to get a learner’s permit is 15 years and 6 months. And to get an intermediate or restrictive license, you must have had your learners permit for over 6 months, complete a minimum of supervised driving of 50 hours, 10 of which must have been a night and have a minimum age of 16 years of age. California also has restrictions of those “intermediate or restrictive licenses” no driving between 11pm and 5am. and there is a passenger limit with no passenger under the age of 20 years of age. Also, teens who do not take a driver education course, must wait until the age of 18 for a license. These applicants will by-pass the previous driver’s license stages.
Unfortunately, most teens lack the knowledge that texting and driving is extremely dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration “about 20 percent of young drivers 18-20 years old thought sending a text message or e-mail made no difference on their driving”. Also, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that over 8 people are killed and 1, 161 are injured daily in incidents involving distraction-affected crashes in the United States. (U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, 2019)
Increasing awareness of the dangers of texting and driving starts at home. If parents are going to allow their children to drive a motor vehicle, then the education should begin at home. Obviously new licensed teens have been provided with some education when it comes to safety while operating a motor vehicle, but parents should play a more active role in promoting such. But, as this may be true, parents must practice what the preach. Meaning, be the leader you want your kids to be. For example, what if a parent is driving their kids to school or an outing, the parent receives a text or proceeds to check their phone while in a red light and nothing happens. The child might say, well mom does it and gets away with it, so can I.
Also, most states have a law restricting the use of a mobile device. California bans the use of cell phones will driving (hand held and texting while driving) and ALL cell phone use by young drivers) according to the Data Institute for Highway Safety. With penalties ranging from $150 for the first offense, followed by $250 for the second and thereafter. Also, the fine is considered a moving violation and will go on your driving record which entail insurance rates to increase according the California Department of Motor Vehicle website. (CALIFORNIA DEPT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, 2019)
AT&T and the ITCANWAIT movement, joined forces to advocate towards a no texting and driving campaign. Having watched a video of high schoolers being interviewed as to the why/what reasons they look at their phones while driving and the reasons were; boredom, at a stop light, traffic, selfies and or (something important might be happening). They seemed to have no care in the world, then they brought in a lovely young girl named Jacey to share her story. Jacey was 21 years old, she was driving home from her college graduation, she was involved in a car accident, the driver of the other car was texting while driving, he slammed in her car and a semi-truck slammed into her driver’s side killing both her parents, sending Jacey to the hospital. She spent 2 months in the hospital, 4 months in rehab and now she’s partially paralyzed on one side of her body. She shared a personal anecdote, that her father was not here to walk her down the aisle and her story to these high school teens so they may become aware that those excuses they gave earlier in their interview, really have an affect on other drivers. The take away from this PSA and most, is that hopefully these teens will refrain from texting and driving and hopefully relate that their own actions indeed have consequences. (https://www.itcanwait.com, 2019)
According to the WHO: World Health Organization: There is little information on the effectiveness of interventions to reduce the mobile phone use while driving. But as studies show an increase of cell phone use and driving, a number of countries are addressing other risk factors for road traffic injuries, such as increasing encouragement of seatbelt use, reducing the speed limits and PSA’s on the dangerous effects on drinking and driving. (WHO:, 2019)
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