86% of teens are texting while driving

Young drivers are fully aware of the dangers of texting while driving, yet according to a new survey from Seventeen magazine and auto club AAA, it doesn’t stop them from doing it. 

A recent online survey found that while 84% of teens are conscious of the risks they take with being distracted while driving, 86% engage in such behavior, whether it is texting or talking on their cell phone, eating, and even putting on makeup. 

What’s more disturbing is how the surveyed teen drivers justify their behavior.  Nearly  41% said they think their action will only take a split second, 35% don’t think they’ll get hurt, 34% claimed they’re used to multitasking, and 32% don’t think anything bad will happen as a result.  Still, they seem to be more aware of the dangers when they are the passengers.  38% said they’ve been afraid they would get hurt in a car because the driver was distracted by doing something else. More than 36% said they believe they’ve been involved in a near-accident because of their own or someone else’s distracted driving.

“Teens do continue to drive distracted even when they recognize the dangers,” according to William Van Tassel, manager of AAA’s driver training programs. “Driving is the first real adult responsibility, but let’s face it, they’re still teens whose brains aren’t fully developed.”

Seventeen editor-in-chief Ann Shoket sees the result of the survey as an opportunity to remind teen drivers of the dangers of distracted driving.

“It’s great that so many teens are able to identify the bad driving habits that will put them and their friends in danger,” said Shoket in a statement. “But the bigger challenge we face now is to give them the tools they need to stop driving while distracted.” 

1,999 teens aged from 16 to 19 were questioned in May 2010 for the survey.  The results will appear in the September issue of Seventeen.

Source: CNET News, August 2, 2010; USA Today, August 3, 2010

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