Texting, Driving Teens Take More Risks

Texting and driving teens more likely to drink and drive and not wear seatbelt

(RxWiki News) The dangers of texting and driving have been well established, especially for less experienced drivers. But teens who admit to texting while driving may be taking other risks as well.

A recent study found that teens who text while driving are much more likely than other teens to drink and drive as well.

The texting-while-driving teens are also less likely to wear seat belts all the time and more likely to ride in the car of a driver who has been drinking.

"Don't text - or drink - while driving."

The study, led by Emily O'Malley Olsen, MSPH, of the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, investigated teens' texting and driving behaviors.

The researchers used data from the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which included 8,505 teens aged 16 to 19.

The teens were asked how often they had text messaged or emailed while driving in the past 30 days.

The answers included 0 days, 1-2 days, 3-5 days, 6-9 days, 10-19 days, 20-29 days or all 30 days.

The survey also asked the teens how often they wore seat belts, how often they had drunk alcohol before driving and how often they had ridden in a car with someone who had drunk alcohol before driving.

The researchers found that 44.5 percent of the teens reported having text messaged or emailed while driving at least once in the previous 30 days.

Those who reported texting while driving were a little more likely (16 percent) than those who did not text and drive to skip the seat belt occasionally.

Those who had texted while driving were also a little more likely (74 percent) than those who did not text while driving to have ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

But the behavior most strongly linked to texting while driving was drinking and driving. The teens who reported texting while driving were more than five times more likely to have drunk alcohol and then driven a vehicle than the teens who did not report texting while driving.

"[These findings] suggest there is a subgroup of students who may place themselves, their passengers, and others on the road at elevated risk for a crash-related injury or fatality by engaging in multiple risky motor vehicle behaviors," the researchers wrote.

The study was published May 13 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the CDC. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
May 10, 2013