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Nearly Half of High Schoolers Text While Driving: Survey
Date:5/13/2013

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Close to half of U.S high school students text while driving, a habit that dramatically increases their risk of getting into a potentially fatal car crash, a new study shows.

Teens who reported texting while driving were more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors such as driving under the influence of alcohol or not wearing a seat belt, the study also found.

The research was published online May 13 and in the June print issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Researchers used responses from more than 8,500 high school students 16 and older who were asked if they had texted while driving during the past month, as part of a 2011 national survey on risky youth behavior. Overall, 44.5 percent of teens said they had done so on one or more days. One in four texted while driving on a daily basis, the study showed. The older the students, the more likely they were to text and drive. Male high school students texted while driving more often than female students.

"The numbers are fairly concerning," said study author Emily O'Malley Olsen, a health statistician in the department of adolescent and school health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It just takes a second of looking away from the road to get into trouble."

Some of the onus falls on parents and pediatricians to counsel teens on the dangers of texting while behind the wheel, she suggested.

"Teens are pretty new drivers and less able to recognize hazardous driving situations and they tend to perceive risk a little bit differently than adults," Olsen said. "Parents should monitor their kids and have frequent discussions about things that can come up while driving such as texting, playing with the radio or playing around with their buddies."

Other experts stressed the importance of making sure teens get the message that texting while drivin
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