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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
Tricia March 2, 2009, 12:32 PM

as the parent of a teen who lost her life because she was texting, I wish all states would completely outlaw the use of cell phone while driving. If a call is important enough, pull over! My daughter’s life was more important than any text she could have been sending/receiving!!!

tayler April 16, 2009, 2:15 PM

My heart goes out to all of the families and friends of these victims. I am speechless and almost in tears right now as I think of all of the lives i have endangered by texting while diving. I see now that it is just not worth it.No message is more important than your life or the life of a loved one. I pray that God will open everyone’s eyes to see how dangerous and serious this is. I will NEVER text while i am in the driver’s seat again!!!!!

amanda April 24, 2009, 2:36 AM

I can say that as a god friend of chelsea Bragg after her death the people who know her have stopped talking on the phone and texting while driving. It is sad that it took us losing her to realize that we needed to be careful. Our moms would talk to us about it and we never listened but it had to take us losing a dear friend for this to sink in.

Angela April 30, 2009, 1:15 PM

Here is an idea dont text and drive unless you want to die.

Dave May 5, 2009, 2:14 PM

Let’s see—these stupid little girls were KILLED because they were sending text messages while driving?

And they’re somehow the victims?

Yeah. Victims of their own stupidity. Good riddance, I say. Good riddance to these and any other stupid little sprunts who are idiotic enough to text while driving.

Good riddance.

Ice May 6, 2009, 12:25 AM

Coincidence that every person involved was a woman? Case closed

the May 6, 2009, 5:36 PM

Don’t want your kids texting while driving? Take away their cell phones! Sure, they might “need” them but if you’re over 25 you grew up perfectly fine without one.

Honestly, texting while driving has got to be the stupidest thing on earth to do. Why would dare attempt it? You’re driving a 2 ton missile down the road (after 35 MPH you’re gonna get hurt which is strangely the speed limit on most streets).

I’d hate to say it but most of children in this post are privileged caucasians who got cars without much need for them then their parents toss them a cellphone so they can go cruise the streets. If people would respect the ability to drive and the dangers of driving a car I think there would be less accidents.

anonomyse May 16, 2009, 11:35 AM

people should not text while driving. teens do not understand what can happen and the dangers of them doing it. i certaintly will never do this and hope others will follow my lead.:)thanks for reading this i read all the other ones here to i appericiate it..

Doug June 1, 2009, 5:01 PM

Cell phone use, in any form while driving, unless a hands free version, is nothing short of reckless endangerment and should be prosecuted as such!

yo June 4, 2009, 1:39 PM

omg thats so sad

lola bright June 10, 2009, 2:04 PM

dang i lost 2 very close friends of mine in a drinking and driving accident
and my cousins were in the accident but they made but not ronnie or vanna they were 2 good people i love them and miss them so much!!

Julie Clark July 25, 2009, 11:20 AM

I’ve been warning my own teen son about this danger and he knows that if I ever find out that he has texted while driving that he’ll lose not only his cell phone but his car! I’ve also writen a number of articles for my website on the use of cell phones by teens.

morgan August 2, 2009, 11:11 PM

i am 17 and love to text and i would never text while i drive. driving is something ppl dont take serious enough and its killing innocent people daily. its more then teens i see grown adults do it daily buisness ppl are using there phones and emailing people and taking your eyes off the rode for one second could end in a nasty situation. i just think ppl dont realize it until its too late.

Anonymous October 5, 2009, 7:49 AM

you guys are rediculous your just all over protective mothers looking for a cause its pathetic

Silver Fang October 21, 2009, 7:53 AM

I don’t text or talk while I’m driving because I don’t trust myself to be able to! I know if I took my eyes off the road, I’d end up veering onto the curb or crashing into a car.

John Rob November 17, 2009, 9:26 PM

I do not read messages received and refrain from texting while driving as mobile application reads out messages for me.

John Rob November 17, 2009, 9:30 PM

I do not read messages received and refrain from texting while driving as mobile application reads out messages for me.

jessica davis January 29, 2010, 8:34 AM

that is sad they sould stop text and driving that bad

shania February 22, 2010, 9:43 AM

I agree with these people it should niot be allowed go to youtube and watch the videos there crazzy! I always thought it would be “cool” to do it but, not noww! people need to take this issue serious!

shania February 22, 2010, 9:45 AM

I agree with these people it should niot be allowed go to youtube and watch the videos there crazzy! I always thought it would be “cool” to do it but, not noww! people need to take this issue serious!

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