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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Texting while driving has now surpassed drinking and driving as the leading cause of death among teens, according to a new study.
More teens die annually from texting while driving than for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a study by Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park.
Despite a national ad campaign and a national dialogue on the dangers, the study reveals stunning new numbers: 50 percent of students text while driving and half of high school kids who drive said they text behind the wheel, CBS 2′s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
“The reality is kids aren’t drinking seven days per week — they are carrying their phones and texting seven days per week, so you intuitively know this a more common occurrence,” Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cohen Children’s Medical Center told Gusoff.
Adesman, the chief author of the study, found that laws against texting while driving are not effective. Fifty-seven percent of boys said they text while driving in states with texting laws, and 59 percent said they text while driving in states that don’t have texting laws, according to the study.
Many are not surprised by the results.
“People are texting and driving all the time,” one man told WCBS 880′s Mike Xirinachs. “I don’t know the exact way to do it, but something’s gotta be done.”
“Every single day I see it,” one driver said. “People driving along, texting, talking on their phone. They’re not supposed to do it, but they do it — kids, grown-ups, everybody does it.”
“I’ve seen it firsthand, it does cause accidents, it’s dangerous and it’s irresponsible,” a former police officer told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “A vehicle is a weapon, just as a gun or a knife, and you can kill people. You don’t deserve to have a driver’s license and that level of responsibility where you can kill people if you’re not willing to take precautions, such as not texting and driving.”
Statistics show that if you are communicating by text while driving a vehicle, you are 23 times more likely to crash.
Some schools have been taking measures to make sure its students stay safe.
Teachers are also taking matters into their own hands by sending their students a strong message about the deadly consequences of texting while driving.
Manhattan schoolteacher Julius Khan said he tells his students to “think about your mother and father crying over your grave or someone’s else grave that you’re responsible for killing.”
“Pay attention to what you’re doing because the life you save could be your own,” Khan added.
Lawmakers have also been pushing for tougher distracted driving laws.
In March, Long Island State Senator Charles Fuschillo proposed harsher penalties for distracted drivers, including increased fines for talking or texting on a cellphone and stricter measures for repeat offenders.
“It goes up to $400 but all the penalties in the world aren’t going to stop someone from being irresponsible,” Fuschillo said.
One possible solution is more widespread use of phone apps that restrict texts and calls from coming in when it detects the phone is in a moving car, Adesman said.
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