One In Three Teens Admits To Texting Or E-Mailing While Driving

As the evidence piles up showing that teens are still distracted behind the wheel to an unsafe degree, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has introduced a new initiative aimed at ending the dangerous habits of texting or emailing while driving.

Jiving with what Consumer Reports found in a recent survey of teens, where 29% of teens admitted to driving while texting, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted its own research, and found that one in three teens nationwide admitted to texting or emailing while behind the wheel.

The DOT is attempting to take that phenomenon on with its new “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving,” which addresses the dangers of using phones while driving. It urges the 11 states without distracted-driving laws to pass them, calls on automakers to develop technology to reduce distractions from devices built or brought into cars, and partners with driver-education programs to include distracted driving in curriculum materials.

Ellen Bloom, Director of Federal Policy and the Washington Office of Consumers Union, said of the DOT’s plan:

“Too many drivers are paying more attention to their phones than the road. Distracted driving has led to thousands of deaths, and hundreds of thousands of injuries. We’ve learned that the number-one way to convince young drivers to stop texting behind the wheel is to educate them on just how deadly the risks are, and that’s a big part of this blueprint by the Transportation Department. It’s a great initiative that will help save lives.”

Texting while driving is common among teens, new CDC report finds [Boston.com]

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  1. lonestarbl says:

    Read the article about the teen from Mass. that just got a year in prison for vehicular homicide because of texting while driving…

    • Marlin says:

      Yea, ONLY 1 year. :-(

    • Sarek says:

      It’s only a year, and the 40 hours community service is laughable, but at least it sends a message. Text while driving, and your little darling will become somebody’s bitch.
      Plus his license is revoked for 15 years.

      All parents should make their teens read this article.

      • BadIdeaSociety says:

        Why do so many people take comfort in the idea that going to jail will result in their getting sexually assaulted?

        • chefboyardee says:

          Because it’s great to see people who do stupid things get what’s coming to them.

        • Sarek says:

          I’m certainly not condoning it. But it does exist, and its existence can be used to scare the feces out of anybody who thinks texting while driving is a good idea.

    • JustMe2011 says:

      And not giving people like that the death penalty is why others will continue to do it. The teen going to prison for ONLY a year made a conscious decision that his texting was more important than someone else’s life. He made a willful decision to engage in a dangerous behavior for his own selfish desire and someone else lost his life and a family is destroyed because of it. His penalty should be equal as it’s obvious he places no value on innocent life that was not harming him in any fashion. But no, the bleeding hearts put their own desire to look tolerant and self-righteous above others’ lives as well, and so we have pathetic “punishments” that won’t do any good and innocent people still dying.

      • Anathema777 says:

        His sentence was more severe than just the prison sentence. He’s going to prison for a year and losing his license for 15. He also has community service obligations to fulfill.

      • Sian says:

        normally I might agree with you, but I don’t see what punishment past what he’s been handed out will accomplish. Teens are stupid and they do stupid things. a year in prison and 15 year ban from driving will get the message across. Enough lives have been lost or severely impacted by his mistake as it is.

  2. homehome says:

    You’re not supposed to have your head in ur lap while you’re driving. I’ve seen ppl type whole emails while being completely aware of the road. Have the road in your field of vision so you can actually see.

    • who? says:

      bullsh*t. It’s impossible. I’ve tried.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      Well of course you’re not supposed to have your head in your lap while driving

      Nor in anyone else’s….

    • bluline says:

      If you’re implying that texting while driving can be done safely, you’re an idiot.

    • alana0j says:

      So you’re saying that as long as you’re holding your phone in such a manner that you’re able to look at it intently enough to type an email AND keep your attention on the road and everything around you…well I have no idea what fantasy world you’re living in. I used to be one of those who thought I could multitask in such a manner, until I almost rear-ended someone. I’m lucky that my story ends with ALMOST, because many don’t. I have learned that there will NEVER be an email or a text message that is so damn urgent you can’t wait until you’re either at a red light or just stopped completely to check it.

    • Sian says:

      I can do this dangerous thing completely safely! It’s everyone else that’s the problem! They’re just not as talented as I am.

      – Everyone ever who has crashed a car while texting.

    • finbar says:

      Agreed. It’s just like when people tell me I shouldn’t roll a “cigerette” while I’m driving. As long as my hands are in the field of vision it’s totally safe. Safe as can be.

      Somebody pass me a lighter.

  3. [censored] says:

    cars should be made with cellular jamming materials :p

    • GrayMatter says:

      Nah! wouldn’t work. Besides, what about the passenger? I have my kids or wife answer the phone while I am driving. Nothing wrong with that.

      • redskull says:

        Except that humanity seemed to get along just fine for many decades without the ability to talk on the phone in a moving vehicle.

        • AstroPig7 says:

          Humanity also got along just fine without the ability to fly across oceans, enjoy television programming, and hear recorded music. It’s not a good reason to eliminate anything, though.

        • BorkBorkBork says:

          And if they wanted someone to talk to, they’d just talk to each other.

          How did they ever survive?

        • Doubting thomas says:

          Humanity got along for centuries without antibiotics or pasteurization as well, of course the infant mortality rate was over 50% and your breakfast was likely to kill you but who cares about that.

    • sherrietee says:

      how would a GPS work, then?

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Right, take away everyone’s ability to call 911, or for passengers to use their phones. Brilliant.

  4. spartan says:

    Shouldn’t the headline read “Two of Three Teens Lie About Texting Or E-Mailing While Driving”

  5. rookie says:

    Send them to prison.
    http://tinyurl.com/6vklj3a

    • Coffee says:

      Oh, rookie…you’re so crotchety in your old age. Don’t you have bowls to make?

      • HomerSimpson says:

        Get off my lawn!

      • rookie says:

        lol…
        I try, and I try and I try and I try, I tell folks right and left, and make some of them downright madder’n a hornet when I tell them to put the damn phone down and DRIVE…
        This is just my personal opinion, of course, and the laws take time to catch up with habits, and some folks do NOT deserve jail time for infractions committed.

        And some folks do.

        • rookie says:

          okie dokie, now i’m pissed…

          dear consumerist,
          please, for the love of gawd and country, allow the good folks an edit button so that we are allowed, even if for a brief period of time, to correct our spelling, which i will never do, and to delete double posting, WHICH HAPPEN DAILY…

          dang it…

      • rookie says:

        lol…
        I try, and I try and I try and I try, I tell folks right and left, and make some of them downright madder’n a hornet when I tell them to put the damn phone down and DRIVE…
        This is just my personal opinion, of course, and the laws take time to catch up with habits, and some folks do NOT deserve jail time for infractions committed.

        And some folks do.

  6. dush says:

    I still constantly see adults talking on the phone while driving.
    Even police are checking their mobile while driving.

    • redskull says:

      Mobiles? Hell, I see the police around here typing on the laptops that are mounted to the passenger seat while they’re driving.

      • Hartwig says:

        I am sure the officers would say they are professionals and go through rigorous training to be able to pay attention while working those devices. Much like speeding and running red lights.

    • Sian says:

      What I wanna know is,

      I see drivers talking on their phones at 6:30 AM. like, maybe 2 our of 5. (as opposed to 4 out of 5 drivers in the evening)

      WHO ARE YOU TALKING TO THIS STUPIDLY EARLY IN THE MORNING WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU

  7. coffee100 says:

    There’s only one problem with this wonderful plan. The Federal Government has no jurisdiction over vehicle laws.

    Stop lobbying for unconstitutional laws and fix the budget.

    • spartan says:

      Yes and no.

      The feds often threaten to hold back highway funding unless the state legislatures pass certain laws. Both the 21 year old drinking age and the old 55 MPH speed limit were imposed because of such threats.

      So while coffee100 is correct on one level, they are mistaken on another.

      • sponica says:

        yep…that’s why NH loses out on highway funds every year. don’t want a seatbelt law…

    • who? says:

      We apparently didn’t read the same article. I saw absolutely nothing in either the summary or the article that said anything about passing any federal laws. The DOT is using the bully pulpit to try to get states and automakers to do some things themselves, but that’s not even similar to attempting to pass a federal law.

  8. Marlin says:

    If I see someone driving and texting I blow my horn. Most of the time they freak out and drop their phone and guess what they do next, look at the f__king road, you know; drive.

    • aaron8301 says:

      I get close to them and hit the panic button for my car alarm when I’m in my car. The siren scares the piss out of them! In my truck, I just blow the air horn. Not scary in the “oh crap I’m in trouble” sense, but just as startling.

      • EarthAngel says:

        I have a “hang up and drive” sticker on my car. You can usually tell when people are on their phone, they’re usually going 20 mph slower than the speed limit. So I get in front of them so that they see my sticker (it’s on my back window, there’s no missing it.)

        People just don’t get it. Why? Because they are better than the next driver on the road.

  9. Onesnap says:

    One of my friends was bed-ridden for 6 months and is lucky to be alive because they were in a horrible accident with a driver who was texting. He crossed the yellow line, hit my friend head-on, and escaped without injury. And yes, texting and driving is illegal in MA. It’s still not taken seriously. :(

  10. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    “… the other two roll their eyes and say ‘noooooo’ in really sarcastic voices while trying to hide their phones from your prying eyes”

  11. Craige says:

    Put them in a car with a manual transmission; I bet texting while driving would be significantly reduced.

    That just points out one of the bigger problems with vehicles today though – they’re too easy to drive. I notice more and more “safety” features in new cars that I expect are going to contribute to lazier and lazier drivers.

    If you don’t want bad drivers behind the wheel, stop giving them licenses. Getting your license is way too easy.

    • Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

      Not true. When I was young and stupid and had a 93 Camry with a manual transmission and a Motorola phone with word prediction I was the best at texting. I don’t do that anymore… got a 2012 camry (automatic this time) and Vlingo on my smart phone. I usually only use it on road trips, though. Otherwise those MFers can wait for me to text back! Calls are answered by bluetooth button on the steering wheel.

      • Craige says:

        Fair enough. There will still be some people who text/call while driving, but I contest that the numbers will be greatly reduced.

        • Doubting thomas says:

          I think you are underestimating human stupidity. (a very easy thing to do). Just as many people would attempt to text and drive the problem would just have a higher ratio of self correcting. The only problem is all the innocents that they would take out along with themselves and their cars.

    • Onesnap says:

      Agreed. I never texted and drove when I drove standard.

    • aaron8301 says:

      Pointless. My truck has a 13-speed manual. I can drive, eat a sandwich, drink a coke, text and browse the XM radio all while going through the gears. Not that I DO, but I am ABLE to. I think a good solution to getting caught texting and driving would be auto license suspension, longer for each successive infraction. Really long for accidents, permanent if you kill someone.

    • Sian says:

      The safer people feel in their cars the more risks they will take. It’s human nature.

      I say ban seatbelts and replace all airbags with a sharpened pneumatic spike, and watch people suddenly be WAY more attentive about how they drive.

  12. CrazyEyed says:

    I’ll be the first to admit, I still do this even though I’ve become quite decensitized to all the rings and dings my phone makes. Even though its illegal in my state to text while driving, I still from time to time, pick up my phone to look at a message someone sent me or text a quick reply back. The texting I leave until I’m completely stopped at a light. It’s still not right.

    I’d be willing to bet that most people with smartphones at least pick up their phones to read comments or posts on apps like twitter or facebook. Until car manufacturerers start developing better phone syncing technologys and couple it with display and/or voice command options, this will continue to be a hot topic.

    • Coffee says:

      I’m guilty of this too…although my texts are usually something along the lines of “:)”. Still, it’s a no-no, and I should know better. Incidentally, the girlfriend told me in no uncertain terms that I should knock it off.

      • aaron8301 says:

        Yeah, your girlfriend gets mad when I text her whilst driving as well, but that’s usually because I’m on my way to see her…

    • Craige says:

      As a side note, I know a couple of people up here in Canada who got tickets while texting at a red light/stop sign. Just because the vehicle isn’t moving doesn’t make it legal. The law is very technical. You are still “driving” so long as the key is in the ignition and the vehicle is running.

      I’m not sure if it would be the same where you live.

      I also remember hearing about a legal case where a person got a drunk driving charge while she was sleeping in her car. She started the engine to get some heat, which meant she was operating the vehicle intoxicated.

      • Coffee says:

        In the U.S., you get a DUI, even if the car isn’t running and you’ve removed the keys from the ignition. It really helps curb DUIs, letting drunks know they can’t sleep it off in a car. Wait…no it doesn’t.

        • Doubting thomas says:

          A bit off topic now but i had a Plano, TX police officer cuff me and put me in the back of a squad car for DUI in my apartment complex 12 years ago. I will admit i was drunk, quite drunk in fact. But I had walked barefoot and shirtless in pajama pants out to my car to get a pack of cigs from the console. I never started the car and in fact had only leaned inside the passenger door to grab the smokes. I had even set a long stemmed wine glass on top of the car. He eventually decided to let me go, probably because I made him understand that my passenger side car door and ignition used different keys (the door being a different color replacement door was a good clue) and I hadn’t even grabbed the ignition key when I walked out my apartment door.

  13. Coffee says:

    From my time playing video games, I just assume that when I’m driving and not paying attention, pedestrians will all jump out of the way. And even in cases when they don’t, the children are unkillable.

    • redskull says:

      Even if you do hit and kill someone, just wait about ten seconds and their body will fade away. Just like real life!

  14. Sarek says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m old, but I just cannot believe people would be so F****** stupid to text and drive. It irritates me enough seeing all the people on handheld cell phones, which is against the law in many states, including mine. Texting is 100X worse.
    What is it that I don’t understand?

    • redskull says:

      I’m with you 100%. I got my first cell phone back in the mid 1990s. As I was driving to the mall one day I took a call and proceeded to talk the entire way there. When the call was over, there I was at the mall, with absolutely no idea how I’d got there. I honestly didn’t remember a single inch of the trip there. Did I run any lights? Maybe. Did I run anyone off the road? Could be? Did I kill anyone? Couldn’t say. I threw the phone down and to this day have never used one while driving.

      Like you, I don’t understand how anyone could think it’s OK or a good idea to type on a tiny keyboard while driving a car. It completely baffles me. And I GUARANTEE the messages they’re typing are of absolutely no importance; “Hey what up?” and utter garbage like that.

      It’s going to take something catastrophic, like some texting idiot slamming into a school bus and killing everyone inside, or mowing down some high profile celebrity’s kid before anything definitive is ever done about this.

    • perruptor says:

      What is it that you don’t understand? It’s that some people really are that stupid. I have seen people reading newspapers while driving on the highway at rush hour. I suppose it would be futile to outlaw stupid driving, but appealing to common sense is even more futile.

    • JustMe2011 says:

      It’s not you. It’s the idiots that 1) Think they are better drivers than they are. 2) Think they can “handle doing both” as if they have some kind of inhuman ability, and 3) don’t freakin’ care about anyone but themselves.

      The last one is the core of the problem. People don’t care about others. Pure and simple. They put themselves ahead of everyone else and are selfish to the point where their convenience and desire to text is worth more than someone else’s life.

  15. DJ Charlie says:

    In other news, two in three teens are damn dirty liars.

  16. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Universal ban on hand held devices don’t work and as a result people get hurt.

    A single mom I work with has one of her sons going in for more surgery today, a year after a teen, txt’ing while driving, ran him over. This boy has had to have his shoulder rebuilt/replaced and bones in his legs regrown. His life as an active functional person was ended by the driver’s need to get the message out. He will be lucky if he can cook an egg by himself.

    When my kids started driving my cars I demanded no phones, mp3 players, no radio, no distractions at all when they drive. It is years later and those rules still apply.

    It will take a major social shift if we are going to get people to take driving seriously. Or, maybe we need to ensure those who destroy the lives of others should themselves pay all their lives.

    • Craige says:

      Out of pure interest, what do you mean by “no radio”. Do you mean they can’t fiddle with the radio while driving, or they can’t listen to the radio at all?

      I think the latter case is a little extreme, but I applaud your dedication. Cellphones and MP3 players are a big no-no. I can’t say I care if a kid listens to the radio while they drive.

      • Onesnap says:

        My Jeep has the radio controls in the steering wheel. So I don’t have to take my eyes off the road and my hands off the radio to change from Sirius to radio or my stations. This is not new. Current Jeep is 2008, last one was 2002.

        I always wonder why more cars do not have this. And yes, I know Ford offers it but I found it clunky to use.

        • Craige says:

          I’ve never had the luxury of driving a vehicle with steering-wheel mounted controls, but they are becoming more popular. I think the reason they haven’t taken off as quickly as one would expect is because they don’t make THAT MUCH of a difference.

          I drive a 2000 Jetta, and I can do anything I need to do with the radio/heat/ac without ever taking my eyes off the road. Reaching over, I know where the buttons are to perform tasks, and I can feel them out no problem.

          These steering-wheel mounted controls might become more popular as touch-screens are being pushed into vehicles though. Once you remove the tactile feedback, you HAVE to look at what you’re doing.

      • BorkBorkBork says:

        Unless you have active, in-depth conversations with your radio, it’s not the same as texting/calling while driving.

  17. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    My fancy car and fancy phone does all the work for me. Vlingo + Bluetooth = #Winning

  18. Coffee says:

    Incidentally, this is a small aside. Something, I will use earbuds to talk on the phone in the car. In an effort to be a batter citizen, I purchased an expensive Jawbone headset so I could do the whole Bluetooth thing. It was a nightmare. Disconnections, having to to get the phone to recognize the phone, or the phone to recognize the device…I found myself digging through my phone settings while driving, which was WAY worse than anything I did while using earbuds. I eventually said fuck it and ditched the blue tooth.

    • Onesnap says:

      I can’t imagine going through all that. My car came with the bluetooth through the radio thingie. My husband’s Nissan has it and my Jeep does too. Just a few buttons and *boom* phone syncs up the second I get in the car. I can’t imagine having it be a rough process or worse having to stick something in my ear. These are not brand new cars either, mine is a 2008 Jeep.

  19. tiredofit says:

    Let’s say that you can get a license at 16. If half of all teenagers admit to texting while driving, and no one under 16 drives, that means ALL TEENAGE DRIVERS TEXT WHILE DRIVING!

  20. mrvw says:

    I found this interesting, but not really surprising. maybe they should inforce laws already inplace, like using blinkers.
    http://www.wisconsininjurynewsblog.com/2012/05/turn-signal-mistakes-cause-more-accidents-than-distracted-driving.shtml

    • mrvw says:

      and yes, i’m aware it’s not a law in every state.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      I sometimes wish vehicles would not turn left or right unless the turn indicator is in use. Drivers who suddenly switch lanes without broadcasting their intentions beforehand are dangerous. Drivers who get upset when I won’t let them change lanes, even though they never indicated they wanted to, make me wonder how they mangaed to operate a vehicle long enough to leave their neighbourhood.

      (I know this would cause more problems than it would solve, but it’s still a passing desire.)

    • Sian says:

      Why do they call it ‘mistakes’?

      Be honest now, people don’t make turn signal mistakes, they just can’t be arsed to move their finger 2 inches to let you know what they’re intending to do with their speeding 4000lb missile, because they’re too busy with their phones/precious snowflakes/expensive coffee/driving a german car.

  21. duncanblackthorne says:

    One In Three Teens Admits To Texting Or E-Mailing While Driving
    ..and the other two are probably lying about it.

  22. mysty says:

    I am starting to see more and more elderly folks talking on cell phones while driving. Frankly, this terrifies me.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      “GET OUT OF MY WAY YOU YOUNG WHIPPERSNAPPER!!!”

      “OH, AND OFF MY LAWN TOO!!!!”

    • corridor7f says:

      Nothing like deadened reflexes combined with tech-distraction to quicken the blood.

  23. HogwartsProfessor says:

    PUT THE FUCKING PHONE AWAY AND DRIVE, YOU IDIOTS.

  24. Rick Sphinx says:

    I call 911, and report people as possibly drunk. It’s the only way they will learn. Doesn’t matter who it is, teen or not; report it, save a life.

  25. darabidduckie says:

    Headline should have read: “DOT attempts to take teens to BEDD”

  26. Cooneymike says:

    Meanwhile, this dad of a teenage driver sorely regrets having set the example he did when texting while driving. Fortunately they only surveyed the teenagers so I can still shake my finger and say ‘You kids – get off my lawn!’

  27. frodolives35 says:

    headline should continue with and 70% of the others lied.

  28. oldwiz65 says:

    I live in suburban Mass and walk around when my back is cooperating. I’m also near a local high school, and the school lets out at 2:00 and I am VERY careful not to attempt to cross a street between 1:45 and 2:30 – it never ceases to amaze me that these kids have the nerve to drive right past the police station while talking/texting on their phones. Besides their usual disregard for such trivial things as stop signs, red lights, and crosswalks, adding texting and talking on the phone makes it very challenging for other drivers or pedestrians. So far we haven’t had anyone killed, but I think it’s because people know better than to dare to cross in front of a teenager.

  29. JonBoy470 says:

    Ugh… So it’s really too bad this person got killed. Funny thing is, a whole host of other, non-phone-related activities are just as dangerous while driving. A number of studies have demonstrated that conversing with the other people riding in the car with you impairs your driving to the same degree that using the phone does, and that the use of a handsfree device doesn’t reduce the level of impairment. What the previous sentence means is that the conversation itself is what impairs your driving (by dividing your attention), and that the medium by which you are conducting the conversation is immaterial. The same impairment is also associated with a whole host of other activities you can legally do in your car: Eating, drinking, screwing with the radio, adjusting the A/C, using a CB radio, etc.

    Unfortunately, these facts are contained in “science-y” publications that are, frankly, really dry reads, and full of jargon that your typical Joe-Q-Public with a 9th grade reading level can’t make heads or tails of compared to gruesome accident scene footage, a 150 point font, four word headline, and Oprah saying “That’s a bad bad thing, don’t do that”… If we were really serious about improving roadway safety, we’d ban cupholders, drive-throughs, passengers, car radios, CB radios, and make everyone ride in absolute silence, including all the toddlers and babies. Unfortunately such laws would be, basically, untenable, so I’m resigned to the fact that there’s a small chance driving to work might kill me…

  30. corridor7f says:

    I don’t think a prison sentence / license suspension would deter most idiots – how ’bout a lifetime texting ban?

    *laughs evily*