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Whether texting and driving, talking on the phone, or otherwise not focusing on task at hand, distracted driving is injuring and killing people every day. For teens, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death, and they are involved in three times the number of fatal crashes as all other drivers. One in three teens admit to texting while driving. In 2009, almost 5,500 people were killed due to distracted driving accidents, and about a half a million were injured. That amounts to 16% of all fatal auto accidents and 20% of auto accidents resulting in injuries. This means distracted driving is an epidemic. According to a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study, physically dialing while driving increased the risk of an accident as much as six times, and texting is even worse, increasing the chances of an accident to 23 times the norm. A University of Utah study revealed that reaction time of a teenager driving while talking on a cell phone is the same as that of a 70 year old driver who isn’t on the phone.
Spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving. Educate yourself about distracted driving. View additional information and resources the U.S. government’s website and at the Consumer Reports website. If you have teen drivers in your home, educate them establish family ground rules against distracted driving. Have them sign a pledge, a family contract, committing to wearing their seatbelt, not texting or talking on the phone while driving, and of course, never driving after drinking alcohol. Agree on penalties for violations of that pledge. Finally, set a good example. Don’t text or use a cell phone while driving.