As for why teens in particular seem so willing to take this risk while behind the wheel? Hasan, a 17-year-old from Algonquin, Illinois, believes it has to do with new social realities.
'Kids my age want to stay in touch,' said Hasan. "We like instant communication, and many kids worry what their friends will think if they don't answer a text message immediately."
Kids worry what their friends will think if they don't answer a text message immediately.
There's no denying it: texting is a part of the mainstream culture, and for many young people, texting is an essential means of communication. While we now know texting does demonstrably affect reaction times — The National Safety Council estimates that 200,000 crashes each year are caused by drivers who are texting — stories like Hasan's tell us that not all drivers have gotten the message: Texting while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, if not more dangerous. Both forms of impairment cause casualties on the road.
Each year, 200,000 crashes are caused by drivers who are texting.
In a State Farm® poll conducted by Harris Interactive, fewer teens view texting while driving as leading to fatal consequences as compared to drinking while driving. Of 14-17 year-olds who intend to have or already have a driver's license, the survey found that 36% strongly agree that if they regularly text and drive they could be killed one day. In contrast, the majority of teens (55%) strongly agree that drinking while driving could be fatal.
One way the issue can be addressed is through frank communication between parents and teen drivers. Of teens who talk often with their parents about driving, 82% strongly agree that if they regularly drink and drive they will get into an accident. That number falls to 72% among teens who rarely or never talk to their parents about driving.
A similar pattern was evident around texting while driving, but in these cases teens view the consequences of texting as less severe. In the survey, 67% of teens who often talk to their parents about driving strongly agree that if they regularly text and drive, someday they will get into an accident. This compared with 56% of teens who rarely or never talk to their parents about driving.
Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States, and the majority of teens rely on their parents to learn how to drive. Sending the right message — and having the data to back it up — might make all the difference.