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Young drivers still distracted by phones: Consumer Reports

August 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of deaths among teenagers in the United States. A just-released Consumer Reports survey reveals many young drivers are keenly aware of the danger of using a cellphone while driving. But there's still cause for serious concern.

Whether it's texting or talking, teenagers like to stay in touch.

A new Consumer Reports survey shows many young drivers are aware this is risky behavior.

But while the majority of young drivers surveyed by the Consumer Reports National Research Center are concerned about distracted driving, it appears actions speak louder than words.

"Seventy-one percent of the young drivers polled said they'd seen their peers texting while driving in the previous month," said Consumer Reports Auto Editor Rik Paul. "And 84 percent said they saw people their age talking on a handheld phone."

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 1,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and 21.

"When we asked about their own personal behavior, the numbers were lower," said Paul. "Still, one-third said they texted while driving in the previous month, and about half said they talked on a handheld phone."

At Consumer Reports Auto Test, teens taking a tire-rack street survival course learned firsthand how driving skills quickly deteriorate when using a cellphone.

Some good news from the survey: Peer pressure may be helping curb distracted driving. Nearly 50 percent of those polled say they were less likely to talk or text with friends in the car.

Parents, remember you need to set a good example behind the wheel and a lot of you don't: Nearly 50 percent of teens reported recently seeing their mom or dad talking on a handheld cellphone while driving. And 15 percent have seen parents texting while driving.


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