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More teens killed by texting and driving than drunk driving

If you have a teenager who has a cellphone, you know how much time they can spend on it. They snap a picture and send it to their friends, text for hours with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and check Facebook like no one's business. What you might not realize, however, is that your teen might be doing the same thing while they're driving.

According to a recent study, approximately half of drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 admit to texting while they drive, and it gets worse as they get older. While only 24 percent of 15-year-olds said they texted while they drove, nearly 60 percent of 18-year-olds admitted to doing it. Texting and driving, however, causes car accidents that lead to hundreds of thousands of injuries and thousands of deaths each year -- and Virginia is likely no exception.

In fact, researchers say that texting and driving has become more deadly than drinking and driving for teens. Each year, approximately 3,000 teens die because someone was texting behind the wheel. Another 300,000 are injured because of the act. Both of those numbers are higher than the deaths and injuries caused by drunk driving.

Unfortunately, preventing texting and driving is proving to be a difficult task. While some states have created laws against it, researchers say it has done little to prevent teens from texting -- and it is difficult for law enforcement officers to spot from their vehicles. For right now, it seems that awareness may be the best way to combat the problem. Discussing the dangers of texting and driving with your teen may encourage him or her to think twice before picking up the phone while driving.

Source: Star Tribune, "Study: Texting is now leading cause of death for teen drivers," Delthia Ricks, May 9, 2013

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