Teen texting reaches all time high

April 13, 2010

By Kelly Waters Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010


The advancements in technology have allowed us to experience great accessories such as iPods, laptops and cell phones. Cell phones have even advanced themselves with iPhones that include many applications to keep a person busy.

One of the perks of cell phones is the ability to text, which is continuously growing in popularity. Teenagers are diving right into the texting frenzy. According to researchers at the Nielsen Company, teens send an average of 10 texts per hour.

Roger Entner, senior vice president of research and insights, said, “Kids text in the morning before they brush their teeth and continue late into the night with the last text messages (also called SMS) sneaked under the covers right before they close their eyes to sleep. Until now, there has been very little firm data available about how pervasive texting has actually become among the under aged.”

With texting as popular as it is, walking around a college campus is no different than seeing teens in a high school. Whether it is in the café, walking to and from class, in the hallway, in the bathroom and even in classes, students can be seen using their phones. Texting has become so widely used that people even text while driving.

Many people are trying to enact cell phone usage restrictions while driving. According to an On Your Side survey given by Nationwide Insurance, eight in ten drivers support some type of cell phone usage restriction. The company website also said that 80% of respondents support a ban on text messaging while driving.

Edgar Snyder & Associates, a law firm representing injured people, came out with data regarding car accidents involving the use of cell phones and/or texting. The information stated that it is still unclear how greatly cell phone calls and texting contribute to car accidents.

However, the law firm also states, “Driving inattention is the leading cause of car accidents, and phone calls and texting while driving lead to more distractions.”

States are also trying to enforce their own laws about cell phone use and texting behind the wheel. In June of 2009, the Pennsylvania state senate approved a bill for banning texting while driving with a 44-3 vote. If passed, it would make PA the 10th state to enforce that law. The legislatures’ proposal worked.

According to http://handsfreeinfo.com, the House approved a ban on handheld cell phone use and text messaging for all drivers. Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Erie and Allentown have all banned cell phone use by drivers unless a hands-free attachment is in use.

Other areas in Pennsylvania have started following suit with their own ordinances. Carbondale outlawed handheld cell phone use and texting by drivers in 2007, and Hazleton is considering a ban on using handheld phones and texting with a fine of $75, to name a few.

What is with the push to ban cell phone use and texting while driving? According to Edgar Snyder & Associates, driving distractions such as calls and texting contributed to nearly 1,000 crashes involving 16 and 17-year-old drivers in 2007.

Each year, 21 percent of fatal car crashes involving teenagers between 16 and 19 involved cell phone use. That rate is expected to increase by 4% every year.

The law firm also said that in 2008, almost 6,000 were killed and a half-million more were injured in crashes concerning driver distraction. Roughly four out of every five accidents (80 percent) are caused by distractions. To give a comparison, “Drunk driving only accounts for 1 out of every 3 accidents (33 percent) nationally.” This means that texting is six times more likely to result in an accident than driving under the influence.

Still planning on texting behind the wheel? Texting while on the road gives drivers a 23% increase of getting into a car accident. In 2002, the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis found that 2,600 people die each year as a result of cell phone use while driving.
The report put out by Edgar Snyder & Associates says, “For every 6 seconds of drive time, a driver sending or receiving a text message spends 4.6 of those seconds with their eyes off the road. This makes texting the most distracting of all cell phone related tasks.”

The law firm included some statistics based on PA alone. It said that in 2008, there were 1,298 cell phone related accidents, nine of which resulted in death. From 2003 to 2006, car accidents led to 50 deaths across the state.

Between those same years, accidents relating to cell phones increased to 43% in the western part of the state. PennDOT noted that there were 5,715 car accidents in 2002 to 2006 caused from none other than the use of cell phones. They also reported that 367 accidents resulted in the same period involving hands-free cell phones.

Texting may be fun and can take up a lot of time in a day, but some places are simply better than others to text in. While texting will continue to grow, so will the rates of accidents related to the use of cell phones while driving.

Next time you get into your car and drive off, think twice before taking out that cell phone to say “hey” to a friend.

email Kelly at: kmw9963@esu.edu

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