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Texting and Driving Deadly for Teens

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Is any text message worth dying over?


Sixteen-year-old Kayla Preuss died of head injuries when she lost control of her car and slammed into the center median. Phone records show Preuss was texting just before the accident.

According to a recent survey, 46% of 16- and 17-year-olds admit to text messaging while driving. That's a frightening statistic, considering AAA found that the risk for a car accident increases by 50% for those who text while driving. Currently, six states have jurisdiction-wide bans on driving while talking on a handheld cell phone, which includes text messaging, according to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety. Overall, 18 other states have a texting ban--and many other states have introduced legislation to ban this dangerous practice. In fact, a recent survey found 89% of Americans want texting while driving outlawed. Here are just a few others who've died as a result of texting and driving:

Bailey Goodman, 17, was killed along with four of her fellow cheerleaders when she swerved into oncoming traffic, hit a tractor-trailer and her SUV burst into flames. Five days earlier, the five teenagers had graduated from high school. Two minutes before the crash was reported, her phone was used to send a text greeting to a friend.
Ashley D. Miller, 18, veered into oncoming traffic and hit another car head-on while she was texting. She and the other driver, a 40-year-old mother of 1, were killed instantly.
Dana Trammell, 17, was texting someone on her way to her first day of school of senior year when she crashed and was thrown from her vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Chelsea Ann Bragg, 16, was killed in a rollover crash after texting while driving. She veered off the shoulder of the road and then lost control of the car, causing it to roll twice. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

- 17-year-old Vanna Francis and 15-year-old Ronnie Scroggins drowned when a car carrying seven teenagers drove off the road and into a river. The 20-year-old driver admitted she was texting on her cell phone when the car plunged into the water, and was later arrested.

- 13-year-old Earman Machado was killed Dec. 27, 2007, when a car--driven by Craig P. Bigos, a 31-year-old father of four, who was text messaging--swerved onto the side of the street and struck the boy on his bike. Bigos has been charged with motor vehicle homicide, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and driving without a license.

- 18-year-old Makayla Lynn Belew was killed when a text-messaging driver hit her as she walked along the side of the road and then drove away from the scene. A year later, Larry Chad Smithey, 28, was arrested for the crime.

- 17-year-old Patrick Sims was replying to a text message when he drifted into the bicycle lane and struck and killed cyclist Jim Price, 63. He was charged with careless driving resulting in death.

How can parents make sure kids don't text and drive?

To help keep your teens safe while they are in the car, SADD recommends moms follow these guidelines for teaching their kids about driving distractions.

  • Know and enforce your state's Graduated Driver License laws and restrictions, including unsupervised driving, time of day and passengers in the car.
  • Sign a teen driving contract such as SADD's Contract for Life
  • Set family driving rules with clear consequences for breaking the rules. SADD recommends rules such as: o No alcohol or drug use o No cell phone use, including text messaging o No driving after 10 p.m. o Keep two hands on the wheel--no eating, changing CDs, handling iPods or other activities while driving o Limit or restrict friends in the car without an adult
  • Follow your own family's rules. Your teen will follow your driving example, so be sure you are keeping your own rules.

How to Avoid Driving Distractions

  • Pull off the road. Do not drive while calling or texting.
  • Use speed dialing or voice-activated dialing if you have to make a call while driving.
  • Let your voicemail take the call. You can call back later when you are not driving. * Know when to stop talking. If the conversation is long, emotional or stressful, continue it when you are not driving.
  • Do not take notes while driving. If you don't want to forget a note, use a take recorder or pull off the road.
  • Do not eat or drink while driving.
  • Groom yourself at home, not in the vehicle. Need a visual aid? Watch this with your teen: Through conversation, education, and communication, we hope your teens will get the message that no text message is worth dying for.

next: Skinny Celeb: A Hypocrite?
120 comments so far | Post a comment now
shanna August 18, 2008, 8:04 PM

As the mom of a teen who’s about to get her driver’s license, I’m terrified about how to warn him about NOT texting and driving! Thanks for your advice…this story should save lives. This is a horrible new trend.

kimberly_s August 18, 2008, 8:18 PM

this should be a wake-up call to all of us. we and are children are probably almost all guilty of texting or being too focused on our phones in the car. i admit i have been in the past. my heart goes out the families of all these teens, and i am definitely using this as a warning to stop texting while i drive.

Anonymous August 18, 2008, 11:55 PM

My heart goes out to these families! I have never texted while driving, and deffinately will not start now.

AGY August 19, 2008, 9:19 AM

I don’t feel one bit sorry for them. I see it every day while driving with my 6-month-old. These kids, and adults as well, swerve all over the place, slow down traffic on the highway and don’t obey traffic laws. I can actually see people holding up their phones and texting while driving. It puts my life and my baby’s life at risk. It’s their own fault they died. My heart does break for the passengers and victims…

birdsfly August 19, 2008, 12:58 PM

My cell plan does not have texting and will not anytime in the future. If it’s not important enough to take a minute to call it’s probably not important enough to send a cryptic text about. Almost all of the texts I got from friends when I had the text feature required a call to clarify anyway (and I don’t use the phone at all while driving, nothing is so important that it can’t wait until I stop, if I have an emergency or REALLY need to call someone I pull over into one of the 10,000 parking lots on the way to where I am headed)

Anonymous August 20, 2008, 5:31 PM

I neither text nor talk while I’m driving and these stories are a very good example of why. My daughter will be getting her license soon and she knows how I feel about texting and talking on the phone while driving and hopefully my opinion has rubbed off on her. It isn’t just teens, I see adults running red lights and driving way too slow and swerving in and out of lanes while on their cell phones and it really needs to be stopped.

flanuva August 22, 2008, 7:50 PM

As far as Kayla Preuss goes, which is your main headline, she was also drunk. Her blood alcohol level was .15, which is 15 times the legal limit for her age and almost twice the legal limit for a 21 year old. Texting and DUI and driving do not mix. This one one of the hardest accidents I ever worked. Please, inform your children about all the dangers out there.

flanuva August 22, 2008, 7:52 PM

As far as Kayla Preuss goes, which is your main headline, she was also drunk. Her blood alcohol level was .15, which is 15 times the legal limit for her age and almost twice the legal limit for a 21 year old. Texting , DUI and driving do not mix. This one one of the hardest accidents I ever worked. Please, inform your children about all the dangers out there.

Stacey August 23, 2008, 4:47 PM

All I know is that I didn’t have a cell phone when I was a teenager and I got along just fine. I didn’t get one until I could afford the payment plan and that’s exactly what I will do for my children. I hope that with the responsibility of having a job and paying bills will come the responsibility of being safe.

A dude... October 2, 2008, 2:59 PM

Did you notice that all the people identified in this article were also women? Just being captain obvious and pointing out yet one more fact.

Jess October 8, 2008, 8:57 PM

as a close friend of Chelsea Bragg, i think that AGY is a heartless person. yeah, she was wrong to be texting, but she was also on her way to church. she was a good person. she did the right things. the person she was texting, was at church wondering if she was on her way… next time you say something harsh, think about how it will affect others. Rip Chels, you were such a great person.

Kelly November 17, 2008, 1:11 AM

I think before anyone who says a bad thing should stop and think you do not know what was going on I know texting is not good but we all have done things we should not have like maybe had a couple of drinks, eating food while driving, talking on the phone, putting on makeup looking at something beside the road. Some were just lucky and the ones that passed away God wanted to take them home. Actually I think they are better off then us we have to live in this horrible world where people like to point the finger and judge one another and never take any blame. We are all going to pass away someday and it will be alot better in Heaven, we all should have hearts and help one another why we are on this Earth. The world has gotten so bad.

guys December 3, 2008, 2:57 PM

this sucks.i hope i never die from this.i hope the people that didnt die ALIVE!!!!

Anonymous December 16, 2008, 3:25 PM

People really should’t text and drive i am only a teen but i know the horrible affects i understand what it means to drive safely and i feel sorry that anyone died from this texting maybe fun but its not worth a life

s.ann December 16, 2008, 7:50 PM

This is a comment for the person posted as AGY. How sad it is to see you say that it is their own fault they died for texting, and you do not feel sorry for them. My daughter was texting when she veered off the road with her brother. She barely survived and was paralyzed permanently from her chest down. Her brother survived after crawling over a half mile on his knees in -30 rural area for help on a broken leg while his sister lie on the road unconscious and severly injured. A word of caution, your 6 month old little one will also be a teenager some day. I hope she will never have to suffer like our teenagers did. Life didn’t give us as parents the choice on this, and it won’t give it to you either. I pray you will find some compassion in life.

S. Ann

Susan R. January 12, 2009, 6:55 PM

For the most part I find cell phones useful. I provided my daughter with a cell phone when she started after school sports so that she can let us know when her games were over or when we should pick her up as there was no phone available and times always seemed to change. However, texting is completely unnecessary. The only way to ensure that kids don’t text while driving is to not make texting an option. There is no other way to remedy this problem. January 27, 2009, 3:44 PM

Textecution™ is a user-friendly application that completely disables texting while driving. Textecution™ is designed for parents to install on their teenage driver’s phone so they know their child is safer behind the wheel of the vehicle. Add immediate peace of mind, security, and safety today with Textecution™.

Jonathan Young February 18, 2009, 3:14 PM

In effort to keep teens safer on the road, I developed a phone application that disables texting and Internet functions while driving. The application is called Textecution, and my children were the inspiration behind the idea. As a parent, I was concerned about their safety, and I felt that the temptation for them to text while driving was simply too great. Apparently my kids are not unique and it breaks my heart to think of the grief these parents suffer from when a child dies in a car accident.

Studies indicate that 46% of teen drivers text when driving. More alarming is the realization that it makes them 6 times more likely to get into an accident than someone not distracted by texting. According to a 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Board, distracted drivers accounted for nearly 80% of all crashes.

With these statistics in mind, along with a genuine interest in preventing needless tragedies, Textecution was born. Once installed, Textecution sits quietly in the background and allows the user to use their phone as normal. Once Textecution recognizes that the phone is traveling faster than 10 miles per hour, Textecution disables the phone’s texting function so text messages cannot be sent or received. When the phone is at rest or traveling at a speed less than 10 miles per hour, the texting feature is seamlessly enabled.

You can find more details and complete information about this life saving application at,

I hope all parents take the necessary steps to try and prevent more tragedies.

Matt Howard February 26, 2009, 11:35 PM

This is so sad. Something has to be done. I’ve created a new group on Linked in called People Against Distracted Driving. Please join me if you care to.

cintia February 27, 2009, 12:33 AM

i am a student in rms Washington
we had to do a cba for goverment and i did mine on texting in the car
i know washington has the laww about no texting in the car and im just
trying to send a leter to the senate so they can make this a law for all the states in the us
i lost a friend bc loser was texting in the car while driving ughhhhh
and ive been reading about all the other ppl who have died about it well
wish me luck:]

wish me luck

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