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Study: Teen Texting and Two-Second Turnoff Campaign

Posted on August 5, 2010

A new survey by AAA and Seventeen magazine on teen driving habits finds that an alarming number of teen drivers engage in risky behavior behind the wheel, including texting, and reading text messages.

The survey is published in Seventeen’s August issue. The survey, taken in April, finds that nearly nine in 10 teenage drivers – or 86% — have driven while distracted, according to an AAA news release. The majority of the teens say they know it’s dangerous but the activity only takes a second and they didn’t think anyone could be hurt.

“It’;s very distracting, and you increase your accidental rate by 50 percent,” AAA spokeswoman Robin Yales said. “We’;re losing a lot of lives from it,” she says to News4Jax.com.

Auto accidents remain the leading cause of death of teenagers ages 15 to 19. Florida remains one of a dozen states that still has not enacted any type of texting ban. Georgia initiated its ban this summer.

“You want a bill that will, in fact, make driving a safer exercise, but you want to make it enforceable,” local Rep. Mike Weinstein said to Channel 4.

Florida has a history of promoting texting ban bills in the legislature and then not passing them at the last minute. Again in March 2010, the bills were locked in committee and failed to pass. In the next legislative session a number of bills are promised again. Rep. Weinstein says it’s only a matter of time before one finally passes.

Critics say it could be tough for law enforcement to decipher between dialing a phone from texting, but both activities are distracting, so perhaps a distinction is not necessary.

Two-Second Turnoff
Seventeen is promoting a Two-Second Turnoff contest September 17th.

Seventeen, AAA, and the U.S. Department of Transportation are sponsoring a viral video day. Teens should put together a 90 second video about the negative influences of distracted driving that talks about Seventeen’;s Two-Second Turnoff Day on September 17. The focus is on why it’s so important not to drive distracted. Upload the video to YouTube, send the link to friends, and then enter the contest. The best video will be judged by Seventeen editors and the winner can take home $2,000.

But the most important prize is the lesson to be learned that two seconds is all it takes to turn off your phone before you start your car so you are never driving distracted.