Texting and driving common among Massachusetts teens

A survey of teen motorists in Massachusetts reveals that a full 42 percent admit that they ignore all the warnings and send or receive text messages while driving. Such distractions from the road are a major cause of car accidents. The worst offenders among teen drivers are high school seniors, of whom 61 percent say that they text and drive. Only a third as many high school sophomore drivers engage in comparable activity.

The survey, conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, received a response from almost 5,400 students. While the results were just announced, the survey was conducted in the spring of last year. The figures should give all motorists in the state cause for concern. Experts say teen motorists already suffer from being inexperienced and impulsive. To add the distraction of texting to their difficulties with driving could be a lethal combination.

National figures released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that a third of all high school students questioned stated that they sent or received emails or text messages while behind the wheel. However, because of differences in the manner in which the state and nationwide surveys were conducted, including variances in the wordings of the questions use, some say it would not be valid to compare the results.

On June 7, an 18-year-old Massachusetts driver was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and sent to prison for 12 months because of causing a fatal accident while driving and texting. Media reports indicated that it was the first such sentence in the entire country. The accident occurred in February 2011 and claimed the life of a 56-year-old man who was visiting from a neighboring state. Hopefully, teen drivers will take a valuable lesson from that tragic event.

Source: Boston Globe, “Teen texting behind wheel common, study finds,” Kay Lazar, June 8, 2012