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Are Your Teens Texting Behind the Wheel?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on December 6, 2012

Washington Texting Distracted DrivingWhen your teens take the car, are they texting while they drive – even though they know it’s dangerous? One study from the University of Michigan found that many parents don’t know the answer to this question.

As most experienced Washington distracted driving accident attorneys have found, young drivers mimic the driving behaviors of their parents, for better or worse. When parents are distracted drivers, teens will often become distracted drivers as well.

The University of Michigan study followed 6,000 teen drivers, asking them about their cell phone and texting habits behind the wheel, as well the behaviors they’ve seen their parents undertake. Twenty-six percent of the teens who responded to the study, or slightly more than one in every four, said that they read or send at least one text message every time they drive. About 20 percent, or one in five, said that they have extended texting conversations every time they drive. Teens whose parents talk or text behind the wheel are more likely to do it themselves.

Washington was one of the first U.S. states to ban texting and driving and to require the use of hands-free devices when talking on a cell phone while driving. While these laws can impose penalties on drivers who are found violating them, they cannot prohibit all distractions behind the wheel.

Young drivers are particularly at risk for a distracted driving crash because they lack the experience to handle many types of driving emergencies. There is no age or experience level, however, at which a driver becomes able to text and drive with complete safety – any distraction behind the wheel is a risk.

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