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Michael Monheit
Michael Monheit
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Distracted Driving Accidents Rising – Texting is the New Elixer

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Did you know that 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving? A staggering 6,000 deaths each year are attributed to distracted-driving. Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone.

Distracted-driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him/her from paying attention to the road. In fact, it can mean quite a few different things – from using a cell phone (to talk, text or check Facebook), to using a navigation system to changing the radio station or to talking to passengers in the vehicle. While all of these things and more serve as dangerous distractions, texting while driving is becoming increasingly more popular, especially among teens.

The culture of information "now" is creating an environment that could lead to an epidemic of distracted driving accidents as teens carry these habits into the car. A survey released in August found, nine in 10 teenage drivers engaged in distracted-driving behaviors such as texting or talking on a cell phone, despite most of them knowing their actions increase the risk of crashing.

Another study, in September, found despite plenty of research demonstrating that texting while driving can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving, most teens simply don’t think that’s the case.

Eleven states have enacted bans on texting while driving, while 30 states and the District of Columbia have also passed such prohibitions for all drivers.

What can you do to prevent distracted driving?

Talk to your teen and set rules to keep them from driving while distracted. Engage your teens in a dialogue about the problem.

Parents should teach their children to turn off their cell phones when they get in the car. Even when the kids are in the backseat, the phone should remain off. It’s important for kids to not associate phone use and texting with driving.

Parents can watch this video about distracted-driving (YouTube) with their teens. It’s graphic and upsetting but that is the very point of the video.

Parents can also download House Rules Informational Brochure and Parent-Teen Driving Contract, both in PDF format which you can print out.

Lastly and most importantly, make your pledge. Help Prevent-Distracted-Driving.org Help get 1,000,000 pledges to stop distracted driving.