Listen up, teen drivers -- put the mobile phone away and resist the temptation to check for or fire off a text message while operating a vehicle
. It doesn't matter that you see parents/adults do it
all the time, be the smarter (and safer) driver out there by waiting to text and you'll significantly increase the odds of getting from point A to point B safely. Lest you think the issue is overblown
, a new study conducted by researchers at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park found that texting while driving contributes to more than 3,000 annual teen deaths nationwide and 300,000 injuries.
Based on those numbers, texting while driving is now a greater risk to teens than drinking and driving, the latter of which has been declining in recent years. According to to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol contributes to an estimated 2,700 teen driving deaths each year and 282,000 injuries.
"A person who is texting can be as impaired as a driver who is legally drunk," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, one of a team of investigators who studied teenage driving deaths between September 2010 and December 2011.
Despite that alarming nugget of information, Adesman and his team found that out of 8,947 teen drivers between 15-18 years old, 49 percent of boys and 45 percent of girls admitted to texting while driving, representing a near-even split among gender. Equally alarming, the practice increases with age. Some 24 percent of 15-year-old drivers will text while behind the wheel compared with 58 percent of 18-year-olds.
Lately there's been a trend towards hands-free texting, but in a separate study
published last month, it was found that there are no safety benefits to voice-to-text apps when it comes to operating a motor vehicle.