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4/25/2013 - Poll finds mixed results regarding teen drivers and texting choices

Many teens have admitted to texting while driving alone.

As traffic safety officials continue to do their best to apprise motorists of the dangers related to distracted driving, it appears as though only a select number of these messages are getting through to young people.

According to the latest polling data conducted by tire and rubber company Bridgestone, eight in every 10 drivers who are between the ages of 17 and 21 readily admit that texting at the wheel is unacceptable and fraught with risk. Yet despite this, close to 40% of them indicate that they still do it.

There also appears to be a link between text messaging behind the wheel when young drivers are alone versus when they have a friend in the car. For example, only about 30% of teenagers said that they sent a text message while driving when someone else was in the car with them. When they were alone, however, 95% of teens said that they either read or sent a message via text or email.

Angela Patterson, manager of the Teen Drive Smart Program at Bridgestone noted how peer pressure can have its positive effects, as young people seem to be less inclined to drive distracted when they're being watched.

"The fact these actions are becoming socially unacceptable shows progress in the effort to raise awareness of the risks and consequences of distracted driving," said Patterson. "But with this many teens admitting to engaging in the behavior privately, there is still much work to be done."

Patterson: One wrong move is all it takes
She added that the message about the consequences of driving distracted need to continue to be emphasized by concerned motorists everywhere that multitasking at the wheel is extremely dangerous and has the potential to permanently alter people's lives.

"It only takes one time to cause a crash that can injure yourself or someone else," said Patterson.

The poll also found that even among teenagers who are reluctant to text and drive, many of them still use their handheld devices at certain times while they're on the road. More than three-fourths of respondents said that they sent or read a text message at a stop sign while 80% confessed to doing the same thing at a red light.

As Distracted Driving Awareness Month continues during April, transportation officials everywhere have made it a priority to better inform motorists about the link between accidents and motorists' inattention.

To learn more about how you can help support Distracted Driving Awareness Month, visit Distraction.gov.

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