State Bans Helping, But Many Teens Still Texting and Driving

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AAP: State Bans Lead to Fewer Teens Texting While Driving
AAP: State Bans Lead to Fewer Teens Texting While Driving

(HealthDay News) — State laws have helped reduce texting and driving by American teens, but many still engage in this unsafe behavior, according to a study scheduled for presentation Saturday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 25 to 28 in San Diego.

Between 2011 and 2013, texting while driving was outlawed in 14 states. Researchers surveyed thousands of teens across the country and found that the overall texting-and-driving rate fell from 43 percent in 2011 when no bans were in effect to just over 30 percent in 2013 when some states had made it illegal. The researchers also found that texting while driving was nearly five times higher among experienced teen drivers than new drivers, and more common among 16-year-olds than 15-year-olds.

"Despite public health campaigns and laws banning texting while driving in most states, texting while driving was four times more common among U.S. high school students than driving while under the influence of alcohol (41.4 versus 10 percent)," principal investigator Alexis Tchaconas, a research assistant at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, said in an American Academy of Pediatrics news release. "Although laws that ban texting while driving appear to be somewhat effective in reducing this dangerous behavior by teen drivers, much more needs to be done to effectively eliminate this major distraction."

"As a parent and as a pediatrician, I would love to see some parental controls built into smartphones so that teenagers cannot be distracted while driving," study senior investigator Andrew Adesman, M.D., said in the news release. He is chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center. Adesman said it's unfortunate that smartphone makers don't restrict or disable texting features when the phone is traveling more than 5 mph.

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