Alabama teens prioritize texting over avoiding car accidents

What does it take for people to learn a lesson? For some people, lectures or campaign messages are enough. For others, a close call is enough to deter them from doing the same dangerous or illegal activity again.

Unfortunately, for many teenagers in Birmingham, nothing seems to be teaching them the lesson they need to learn: Texting and driving is a dangerous and fatal combination.

The Department of Transportation has created campaigns geared toward ending distracted driving. Schools have parked totaled cars in their parking lots, showing students the worst consequence from failing to keep their eyes on the road. Many teenagers have been jailed after causing fatal car accidents, and numerous others have been involved in fender benders because they were texting. But to what avail? Teenagers everywhere continue to text while they're driving.

According to a recent survey, about 60 percent of high school seniors and about 45 percent of high school juniors admitted to texting while they drive.

One student, Dylan is a senior and on the honor roll. He's a smart and articulate teenager, but he can't seem to learn one lesson: putting down his phone. Earlier this year, Dylan caused a fender bender when he was texting in traffic. After the accident, his mom made him take a safe-driving class. Although he admitted that he felt like an idiot for causing the accident, he also admitted that he still texts when he's driving.

Sadly, he's not alone. The average teenager sends and receives about 100 text messages per day, and texts are the most prominent way teens communicate with their peers -- even when they're driving.

Although 39 states prohibit texting and driving for all age groups and an additional five states prohibit teens from texting behind the wheel, it's still not enough to stop them. What will it take for teens to shut off their phones when they're driving, and until that happens, how many innocent people will be endangered or killed because of distracted motorists?

Source: USA Today, "CDC: Older teens often text while behind the wheel," The Associated Press, June 7, 2012

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