Memorial Day Kicks Off 100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Kicks Off 100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers

Memorial Day may have marked the unofficial start of summer, but it also kicked off the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.

From graduation parties and holidays to summer jobs, many teenagers spend more time on the road between Memorial Day and Labor Day than any other time of the year. Given that texting is the communication mode du jour for high schoolers, that extra time on the road often translates into more texting while driving.

While nearly every teen knows it's dangerous, 43 percent admit to texting from the road anyway, and 75 percent say their friends text and drive, according to an online survey of 1,200 teenagers ages 15 to 19, which was commissioned by AT&T.

Peer pressure is a key contributor to the prevalence of this hazardous behavior, says Andrea Brands, director of consumer safety and education for AT&T. "The fact [is] that most teens expected to receive a response [to their texts] within five minutes. … That's one of the reasons why they really feel like they need to be texting all the time," Brands says. "That to me is a big reason why they're doing it, even though almost all of them — 97 percent — said this is a bad practice."

Another way parents can attempt to quash texting behind the wheel is by practicing what they preach, Brands says. "Not just their parents, but adults in general are telling them not to text and drive, but then they're getting on their BlackBerrys and doing it themselves," she says.

In fact, 77 percent of the teens whom AT&T surveyed say the same adults telling them not to text and drive do it "all the time," according to the survey.

Sources: U.S. News & World Report, AT&T