Many Wisconsin parents may worry about their teens drinking and driving. Experimenting with alcohol is common among teens, and we all know that drunk driving can have devastating consequences. While this issue has not gone away, a recent study shows that parents may want to turn their attention to cellphones instead.

According to a study conducted by researchers at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, texting and driving is now the leading cause of death among teen drivers. In fact, about half of the nearly 9,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 18 who were surveyed did not even hide the fact that they send and read text messages from behind the wheel. Car accident statistics also show that texting while driving injures and kills more teenagers than drunk driving.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 282,000 teenagers are injured by drunk driving, and 2,700 teens are killed by it each year. Texting and driving, on the other hand, has played a role in 300,000 injuries and 3,000 teen deaths. Unfortunately, teen drivers may not fully understand the possible consequences of their actions.

Although some states have attempted to protect drivers and others who use the roads by enacting laws banning texting and driving, research has shown that such laws do little to deter texting and driving among teenagers. The next time your teenager grabs the car keys to meet up with friends, it might be worth taking a moment to explain to him or her the dangers of texting and driving. Doing so could help keep roads safe and may even save a life.

Source: Star Tribune, “Study: Texting is now leading cause of death for teen drivers,” Delthia Ricks, May 9, 2013