If you have read our San Diego personal injury blog for any period of time, you are probably aware that distracted driving awareness and prevention is a major focus of traffic safety agencies both in California and at the federal level. Now, with the release of a new survey on texting and driving in teenagers, this focus will likely become even more intense as government officials work to prevent distracted driving-related car accidents, injuries and fatalities.
In the survey, officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than 15,000 high school students from across the country. The CDC survey is conducted every two years, but this is the first time it has included questions about distracted driving. The results surprised many CDC officials: nearly 45 and 60 percent of high school juniors and seniors, respectively, said that they had texted or emailed while behind the wheel within the past month.
Traffic safety officials say that the consequences of distracted driving are deadly. Focusing on a cell phone instead of on the road causes delayed reaction times and swerving, among other potentially harmful driving behaviors. And young people are especially susceptible to the most serious consequence of texting behind the wheel: distracted driving deaths are most common in teenagers, with statistics indicating that about 16 percent of teen car accident deaths are caused by distraction.
According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, distracted driving is a "national epidemic" that needs immediate and constant attention. "We need to teach kids, who are the most vulnerable drivers, that texting and driving don't mix," he said.
Source: Seattle Times, "CDC: Older teens often text while behind the wheel," Mike Stobbe, June 7, 2012