A new survey performed by Harris Interactive found that 57 percent of teens admit to texting while driving. The nationwide survey polled 652 teenagers ranging from 14 to 17 years old. 362 of the teens had not yet earned their driver’s license, while 290 already held a permit or license. Despite extensive research comparing the dangers of texting while driving to drunk driving, the survey clearly shows that many teenagers ignore the consequences involved.

35 percent of the teenagers surveyed strongly agreed that if they text and drive on a regular basis, they will likely be killed. More teens, though (57 percent), strongly agreed that drinking and driving could take their life.

Teenagers aren’t the only distracted drivers on the road, of course. Other studies have suggested that using a cell phone while driving-be it handheld or Bluetooth-extends reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent (the legal limit).

Despite these findings, millions of people still drive distracted every day, causing more than 5,000 deaths and about 450,000 collisions in the United States annually.

These numbers, unfortunately, appear to be trending upward. In 2009, 16 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents were the cause of distracted driving. While numbers for 2011 are still pending, it is more than likely that the fatality rate will be higher. A 2011 Virginia Tech study found that drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a wreck if they are texting while driving. Considering the rapid increase in technology (more than 50% of mobile customers own a smart phone) and that there are an estimated 210 million drivers in the United States, the future of safe driving is very distressing.

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