December 5, 2009

OMG! Teens, Texting, and Driving! STANDUP!

Did you know that car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the US? That amounts to about 5000 kids dying every year, making up twelve percent of all individuals involved in car crash deaths. Here is another number to chew on. In a survey by The Allstate Foundation, titled: Chronic: A Report on Teen Safe Driving, fifty-six percent of teens say they make or answer cell phone calls while driving. AND, and this is the OMG part (that's Oh My God for non-texters), thirteen percent of teens say they make or respond to text messages while driving!

The report also found that teens have the lowest percentage of seat belt use, are most vulnerable to peer pressure from others in the car, and are very uncomfortable speaking up when friends aren't driving safely. Now that is a prescription for danger . . .  and the data is worse for teen boys. It's really a call for some serious man-making.

There is help in the works and it's called the STANDUP Act. The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act of 2009 was introduced in April 2009 by Reps. Tim Bishop (D-NY), Michael Castle (R-DE), and Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (D-MD).  This legislation would establish minimum federal requirements for state GDL laws (National Graduated Driver Licensing) and encourage all states to adopt GDL laws that meet the minimum requirements within 3 years. Here is a quick overview the STANDUP Act:

States must meet the following requirements under the STANDUP Act:

Three stages of licensing – learner’s permit, intermediate stage, and full licensure – should be used

Age 16 should be the earliest age for entry into the learner’s permit process

Nighttime driving while unsupervised should be restricted during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages, until full licensure at age 18

Driving while using communication devices (cell phone calls, texting) should be prohibited at least until full licensure at age 18

Unrestricted, full licensure should occur no earlier than age 18

Passengers should be restricted – no more than one non-familial passenger under age 21 unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle – until full licensure at age 18

The Allstate Foundation research indicates that in states with comprehensive GDL programs in place, fatal crashes of 16 year old drivers has fallen by 40% . . . but that is not good enough.

If you have teen drivers in your life, it really is time to have that conversation about cell phones and driving . . . and then to be careful what you're modeling around phones and driving in their presence. You can also go to the Allstate Teen Driver Website for all kinds of helpful resources. They have data, instructional videos, petitions to sign, and even a Parent-Teen Driving Contract.

Let's all do what we can 
to prevent more OMG's


  1. Accident scenes are displayed everyday in TV news and blogs and most of them are caused by texting while driving. It is dangerous to be distracted while driving. I use mobile application of to send out text messages and stay focused on driving.

  2. I don't normally allow promotional posts, but I'll let this one fly. My personal position is that ANY use of a cell phone while driving, especially for a teen, should be prohibited.

    If a conversation is so critical it can't wait for a safe moment, pull over and talk.


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