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Texting teens more likely to drive drunk, not wear seat belt

It's well-known that texting while driving is a very dangerous behavior. That danger might be rubbing off on teen drivers as a new study found that teens who text behind the wheel are more likely to portray other risky behaviors while driving.

Teenagers in the U.S. that text while driving are less likely to wear their seat belt and often ride with an intoxicated driver, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study found despite texting while driving being illegal in most states, many teens still send and read texts behind the wheel. They reported that four out of nine high school students surveyed sent or read of text while driving within the last month.

The study surveyed high school students across the U.S. The study reported that teens who texted behind the wheel more frequently were also more likely to admit to other risky driving behaviors that increase the risk of being in a car accident. The researchers said that teen drivers who more frequently texted while driving also got behind the wheel after drinking more often.

The researchers said that three percent of teens who did not text while driving admitted to driving after drinking alcohol within the last month. However, 19 percent of teens who did text while driving said they had driven after drinking, and 34 percent of teens who said they texted behind the wheel almost daily admitted to driving after drinking alcohol.

The study concluded that teen drivers who already exhibited one dangerous driving behavior, like texting while driving, were much more likely to participate in other dangerous behaviors, like driving under the influence of alcohol and not wearing their seat belt.

The researchers and safety advocates said that parents and schools should discuss the importance of safe driving behaviors and wearing your seat belt, even after teenagers have their driver's license. In addition, parents should discuss the dangers of taking risks while driving.

Source: Reuters, "Teen texting at the wheel tied to more driving risks," Genevra Pittman, May 13, 2013

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