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Driving While Texting (DWT) epidemic among teens

The dangers associated with texting while driving have been well documented over the last several years. Despite state legislation and widespread media attention, too many Virginians remain unyielding to the dangers it presents; not surprisingly, young drivers are increasingly among the offenders.

A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project estimates that 26% of all American teens have texted while driving. Equally, if not more troubling is that nearly half of teens ages 12 to 17 have witnessed someone else texting while driving. These numbers reflect not only an alarming ambivalence among teen drivers, but also indicate that texting while driving may be an increasingly learned behavior.

“[My] dad drives like he’s drunk,” explains one teenaged survey participant, “his phone is just like sitting in front of his face, and he puts his knees on the bottom of the steering wheel and tries to text.” Based on my own experience, this teen’s account is, I am afraid, all too real. Our children clearly recognize and to some extent appreciate the folly we often exhibit as parents, but time has shown again and again, that teens are quite prone to mimicry. Take smoking for instance. Research suggests that children of parent’s who smoke, may have at least twice the risk of becoming habitual smokers by the time they graduate from high school. The same logic applies here, folks.

As each generation becomes increasingly connected through modern technology, this problem will grow exponentially if unchecked. Teenagers do not respond very well to statistics and too often shrug off threats to their own safety. They are, however, likely to imitate the actions of those closest to them. Make certain that you set a good example for the young drivers in your family, and maybe we can begin to curb this awful trend.