“I been driving for three years, and out of those three years I have never gotten one ticket for [driving while texting],” says Mickeal, age 17. “And I do it all the time.”
Mickeal is not alone. Teens regularly text messages and drive, and many think it is not all that dangerous, according to a survey by SciJourner of 51 youth, ages 16 to 21. Out of the 51 surveyed on facebook.com, 45% thought it could become dangerous, However, 21% said it would be dangerous for someone who didn’t know what they were doing, while 29% felt that it was a more careless behavior than dangerous. (The last 5% did not respond to the question.)
Missouri is one of 19 states that have outlawed driving while texting (DWT). According to the New York Times published July 27, 2009, collision risks for teens increase 23 times when they are texting.
A 2007 survey by the Automobile Association of America’s (AAA) and Seventeen magazine of 1,000 teens that drive, ages 16-17, found that 28% admitted to DWT. A separate study of adults, found that they, too, have joined into this behavior, according to the AAA website. Experts say that if the rate of DWT decreased, the percentage of teen accidents will also decrease.
Getting teens to change behavior could be quite a challenge. “ I have been doing it [DWT] so long I don’t even have to look at the keyboard anymore,” Admits Mickeal. ”When I first started texting and driving I thought: I could get hurt. But by now I know how to look up at the road when I need to. So, I don’t have a problem anymore. I don’t feel it’s unsafe on my end.”