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Study Shows Teen Continue to Text and Drive Despite Ban

Aug 2, 2012 Brown Moore Car Accidents

Despite a ban on teen drivers from using cellphones while behind the wheel, a new study finds that teens are texting while driving more than ever.

In North Carolina, it is against the law for drivers under the age of 18 to use a hand-held cellphone while driving, including for talking or sending and receiving text messages – with exceptions in emergency situations or to talk with parents or guardians. Teens caught violating this law will be fined $25.

Published in the periodical Accident Analysis and Prevention, the study by the Highway Safety Research Center at UNC-Chapel Hill found that between 2006 (the year before the ban) and 2008 (a year after the ban) the number of teen drivers engaged in texting behind the wheel had increased nearly 40 percent. And, Arthur Goodwin of the UNC Safety Research Center was quoted in the News Observer as estimating that the number of teens that text behind the wheel is even higher today than when the study was conducted.

Statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that 11 percent of drivers under 20 years old involved in fatal car accidents were distracted at the time of the accident. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that the crash risk for drivers who are texting is 23 times that of drivers who are not distracted.

While all drivers in North Carolina are banned from texting while driving, according to Harris Poll it is younger drivers that are more likely to text behind the wheel than older drivers. Combining inexperienced drivers with a dangerous activity is a dangerous recipe.

Source: Winston-Salem Journal, “Study: Teen drivers who text are more persistent, harder to catch“, July 11, 2012