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Texting while driving kills more teens than drunk driving

In the United States, a new study shows that texting and talking on a cell phone while driving has now become a primary cause of death among teens in the country, killing 3,000 people a year. Drunken driving is a secondary cause with which nearly 2,700 people die every year.

The study carried out by the Cohen Children’s Medical Centre in New Hyde Park on Long Island found that the ratio of male teens who continue texting while driving is 57% in those states in which it is banned and 59% in those states in which it is not banned. According to an NBC News report, the findings of the study by Cohen Children’s Medical Centre are similar to the study published in the US by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year which found that 58% of high school seniors accepted having texted or emailed while driving during the previous month.

In charge of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the author of the latest study, Dr Andrew Adesman told CBS, “The reality is kids aren’t drinking seven days per week — they are carrying their phones and texting seven days per week, so you intuitively know this a more common occurrence”. He said that there is a way to cope with the dangers associated with texting while driving which is to develop those kinds of mobile phone apps that sense when a motor vehicle is in motion and prevent a cell phone from making or receiving text messages such as the Otter app.

Road safety charity IAM conducted a research using the Transport Research Laboratory’s DigiCar simulator and it published results of research last year in the UK. The results showed that using social networks while driving was more dangerous than driving under the influence of an intoxicant. This year, a survey on Smartphone use while driving from Halfords found that 57% of youngsters under the age of 25 years accepted reading text messages while driving. The results are similar to the US report’s findings. May be there are some underlying differenes such as the age groups are different and that in many US states teenagers can drive at a much earlier age than in the UK.

The company’s In-Car Technology Manager, Dave Poulter said that the survey findings “paint a disturbing picture of what is happening on the UK’s roads and the emerging trend towards using mobile phones to link with social media while driving is extremely worrying”.

Reaction on radio phone-in shows to the Cohen Children’s Medical Centre’s survey reflected a lack of surprise about the results of the survey.

A caller told WCBS 880 that “Every single day I see it, people driving along, texting, talking on their phone. They’re not supposed to do it, but they do it — kids, grown-ups, everybody does it”. A former police officer told 1010 WINS, “I’ve seen it first-hand, it does cause accidents, it’s dangerous and it’s irresponsible. A vehicle is a weapon, just as a gun or a knife, and you can kill people. You don’t deserve to have a driver’s license and that level of responsibility where you can kill people if you’re not willing to take precautions, such as not texting and driving”.

The results of the study show that people texting or talking while driving are up to 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident, according to CBS New York. It also reported that Schools including the New York Institute of Technology and Freeport High School have had students take part in driving simulations that highlight how dangerous it is to text or talk on a cell phone while driving.

Florida became the 40th of the 50 states of the USA which banned texting while driving a motor vehicle, earlier this month. One senator said to make the texting while driving laws stricter and tough laws to be imposed on offenders.

In March, fines for texting while driving offenders should be increased and there should be harsher penalties for repeat transgressors, said Senator Charles Fuschillo who represents Long Island in the New York State Senate. He also said that “It goes up to $400 but all the penalties in the world aren’t going to stop someone from being irresponsible”.

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