In 2011, nearly half of high school students 16 and older reported texting while driving in a large national survey.
The study “Texting While Driving and Other Risky Motor Vehicle Behaviors Among High School Students,” is in the June 2013 issue of Pediatrics and will be published online May 13.
Researchers surveyed more than 15,000 students as part of the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which assessed texting while driving during the prior 30 days. The survey also assessed other risky behaviors, including irregular seat belt use and driving when they had been drinking.
Of the usable surveys, about 8,500 students aged 16 years or older included a response to the texting question, and 44.5 percent of respondents said they had engaged in this behavior. Those who reported texting while driving also were more likely to behave in other risky ways. They were five times more likely than those who did not text while driving to operate a car when they had been drinking alcohol. And those who texted more often were much more likely to skip wearing a seat belt. Distracted driving due to texting has emerged as an important teen safety issue.
According to the authors, strategies to reduce this and other risky driving behaviors may include state laws and technological solutions, but parental supervision may be the most effective prevention tool.