Fort Worth, Texas,
13:51 PM

When LOL becomes OMG in the blink of an eye

The dangers of texting and driving

Texting combines three distractions into one: it takes the driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and mind off the primary task. The Texas Department of Transportation says distracted driving includes distraction, driver inattention or cell-phone use.

Distracted driving is becoming increasingly common and dangerous, causing traffic crashes and fatalities. In 2015, 463 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in Texas and 3,000 more were seriously hurt.

This month, the Texas Department of Transportation begins it's annual "Talk. Text. Crash." distracted driving campaign. According to TxDot:

"In 2015, 38 percent of Texas drivers admitted to talking on their mobile phone while driving at least some of the time, according to a survey conducted by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, and more than one-fifth (21.2 percent) of drivers said they read or send text messages or emails when behind the wheel."

Teens may even be aware of the danger, but in the teenage mind, the need to stay in touch often outweighs the need to stay safe. ‘Kids who are learning to drive right now have grown up with cell phones, so it seems natural to stay connected to their friends all the time,” said Sam McCage, Ph.D., LMFT, LPC, manager of Behavioral Health Services at Cook Children’s. “When teenagers do not respond immediately to texts, they might feel that they’re being very rude or will miss out on something important.”

The most dangerous time of the year for teens to drive, is the first year after they receive their driver license. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 have a higher crash rate than those drivers between the ages of 18 and 19. Sixteen –year-old drivers are less experienced and haven’t developed the skills necessary to handle distractions, road hazards and poor traffic situations.

Parents can help their teen drivers by riding in the car with them, even after they obtain their license. The only way teens learn to drive is by driving, and they will get better at driving when coached by an experienced older driver. Please don’t assume that just because your teen has passed their driving test, that they know everything about driving.