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Texting While Driving More Fatal Than Drunk Driving

Texting while driving is now the leading cause of traffic deaths among teens, a study shows.

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By Victoria Kim

05/09/13

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Smartphones, the "21st Century Narcotic," are killing more than just our attention spans. Texting while driving is now the leading cause of traffic deaths among teens, making it even more hazardous than drunk driving, according to a new study. An estimated 3,000 teens die annually from texting while driving, compared to 2,700 teen drunk driving casualties, according to Researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park. And statistics show that if you are texting while operating a vehicle, you're 23 times more likely to crash. "We have very strong taboos against drinking and driving. Kids don't drink and drive every day. But some kids are out there texting and driving seven days a week—and they admit it," says Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen. The CDC reported last fall that drinking among teen drivers has decreased by 54% since 1991, but texting has rapidly increased, with 50% of teen drivers now admitting to using their cellphones while driving. State lawmakers are pushing for tougher regulations against "distracted driving," but Adesman says there has been no evidence that prior legislation has been effective. "When we compared states where there are no laws in effect [barring texting while operating a moving vehicle] and states where there are laws on the books, we found there was no difference in their responses," says Adesman. "Clearly, the laws are not effective."

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