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Studies Highlight Dangers of Texting for New Jersey Teen Drivers

With the teen generation in New Jersey and across the country more immersed in cellphones than anyone ever before, it is easy to see the link between teen drivers, cellphones and accidents. Many states have enacted laws that make it illegal to text and drive, but others are still considering the option. However, two recent studies suggest that texting and driving, in any capacity, is dangerous and is a huge factor in many motor vehicle accidents.

The studies specifically targeted the younger generation and examined cellphone use while driving. One of the studies found that there is no safe way to text while driving no matter how the person positions the cellphone. The researchers, using simulators and 15 to 19-year-olds, found that no matter where the cellphone was located, the drivers were four to six times more likely to drift out of their lanes.

The other study looked at the larger issue of compulsive cellphone use, meaning whether cellphone use can become an addiction. The study sought to determine if compulsive users were more likely to have car accidents. While the study could not prove a direct link between compulsive cellphone use and auto collisions, it estimated that there are an extra 13 crashes per 100 students that are considered highly compulsive users.

Although that second study did not prove that compulsive users have more motor vehicle accidents, it did open up the question of whether people, specifically young people, can become addicted to their cellphones. The study surveyed 384 undergraduate students focusing on questions about emotional attachment to cellphones and whether students are unable to function normally because of cellphone use. This research is said to be essential to help traffic safety advocates stop dangerous cellphone use while driving.

While further studies may shed more light into the issue, teens should be aware of the very apparent risks of using cellphones while driving. Adults can play an important role in emphasizing the benefits of staying off phones while driving to help avoid the heightened risk of car accidents.

Source: USNews, "Cellphones, Texting Put Teen Drivers in Danger, Studies Show," Randy Dotinga, 4/29/12.

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