11 teens die from texting while driving per day

There’s an epidemic sweeping across the country that leaves 11 teens dead everyday. No, it’s not disease-related but instead distraction-based as nearly a dozen teens…

Texting while driving is the leading cause of U.S. teen deaths. (Shutterstock)

There’s an epidemic sweeping across the country that leaves 11 teens dead everyday.

No, it’s not disease-related but instead distraction-based as nearly a dozen teens daily die from texting while driving.

SEE ALSO: Texting and driving: More lethal than drinking and driving

Perhaps the bigger problem currently facing families is the fact a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study revealed found 4 out of 10 teens have engaged in this risky behavior.

“Whereas we know that drinking and driving there’s an impairment, with texting and driving is a distraction,” CDC Director of Division of Adolescent and School Health Dr. Stephanie Zaza told Voxxi. “They are a little bit different. Texting tends to draw your attention away from driving for more frequently and for longer periods of time then other kinds of distractions. It’s a very high risk.”

The new study revealed only 10 percent of students who drove reported drinking and driving; however, texting is invariably ubiquitous with tweeners to college-age students.

“Texting in and of itself it incredibly common among teenagers, and it’s much more prevalent behavior in general than drinking,” Zaza said. “I think the success we’ve seen in reducing drinking and driving – and drinking overall – among young people is really important, and it demonstrates there are ways to address the issue with multiple kinds of interventions.”

The latest Centers for Disease Control study anonymously surveyed more than 13,000 9th to 12th grade students in the spring of 2013 regarding risky behaviors that could lead to unintentional injuries, obesity and unplanned pregnancies.

Another highlighted risky-behavior concern revealed in the study involves sexually active teens are less likely to use condoms. Zaza said that figure jumped from 46 percent in 1991 to 63 percent in 2003 but recently fell slightly to 59 percent.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” Zaza said. “We’ve been seeing this trend over a number of years. I think we’re concerned about it and trying to dig in to understand why that’s happening among teen populations So we can obviously design interventions that try to address that issue.

“We also did see that fewer students are reporting that they’re currently sexual active. That’s a good sign and that means there is sort of less opportunity for risk, but it is concerning when they’re sexually active the rate of using condoms is down.”

In terms of television watching, the survey offers mixed results. Kids are watching less then they were 15 years ago but are spending more time using computers. That figure is up to more than 41 percent (in 2011 it was more than 31 percent). Considering 1 in 5 students is considered obese, sedentary computer use is concerning.

If there’s a common denominator regarding risky teen behavior it seems to be modern technology, ranging form texting to tweeting.

“Teens can often be the most modern people out there so I can’t say I find any of the individual findings surprising,” Zaza said. “What I find surprising is that the inventiveness with which we continually find ways to be risky. Technology does seem to be a little bit of a theme here. We’re constantly watching for those things so we can ask those questions for future surveys.”

In fact, looking ahead, Zaza said the next Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study will explore teen use of the E-cigarette.

“It’s really important that parents and schools and community leaders are aware of what these risks are that young people are taking upon themselves and to talk directly with them to mentor and help these behaviors and lifestyles,” Zaza said. “They’re the most important influences on teens so understanding what the risks are and being forthright in talking to their young people is really important.”

SEE ALSO: CDC: Older teens often text and drive