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Teens text and drive even though they know it's dangerous
By Insure.com staff

A growing number of teens think texting while driving is dangerous, but that's not stopping them from doing it, according to a new survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

A majority of teens, 59 percent, say texting while driving is very or extremely distracting, significantly more than the 38 percent of teens who said so in 2008.

Yet more than half, 53 percent, of the 2,294 high school students surveyed this year say they text while driving at least some of the time, and 28 percent admit doing so often or very often.

Other key findings include:

• More than 40 percent of teens who text while driving send more than 10 messages from behind the wheel each day. Almost 10 percent text 50 or more messages daily while driving.

• Teens are increasingly likely to text their parents while driving--63 percent in this year's study, versus 55 percent in 2009. Most teens who report texting their parents from behind the wheel say they're letting their folks know where they are.

"While it's important for parents to know where their children are and what they are doing, they need to take a firm stance against texting while driving and other distracted driving behaviors," Stephen Wallace, SADD's senior advisor for policy, research, and education, said in a press statement. "This research shows that despite awareness campaigns and laws against texting while driving, it's a common behavior among teens that parents inadvertently may be aiding."

Teens also admit engaging in other distracting behaviors while driving. According to the survey:

  • 73 percent admit to changing songs on an iPod or MP3 player.
  • 67 percent admit to talking on a cell phone.
  • 13 percent say they use their cell phone to access the Internet or update their Facebook status or MySpace account.
  • 10 percent use their phones to take pictures or videos while driving.
  • 4 percent say they use an iPad or tablet PC behind the wheel.

"The reality is, the 'don't talk on the phone while driving' conversation of a few years ago, must today expand to 'don't use your cell phone, MP3 player or any computer device for any reason while driving,'" Dave Melton, Liberty Mutual's director of global safety, said in a prepared statement. "If you're not talking about it, chances are they will do it."

Car insurance rates for teens are high because 16- to 19-year-old drivers are four times more likely than older drivers to get in a crash, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.


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