Danger Ahead: Distracted Young Drivers

Whether it's texting or talking... teenagers like to stay in touch.

But a new Consumer Reports' survey shows many young drivers are aware this is risky behavior.

Elizabeth Benway asked, "Don't you just know that it's dangerous, and you can't just put it down for 15 minutes?"

Rachel Eisman explained, "It's an easy thing to avoid. You can just wait until you get there and text."

But while the majority of young drivers surveyed by Consumer Reports National Research Center are concerned about distracted driving, it appears actions speak louder than words.

Rik Paul with Consumer Reports says, "71% of the young drivers polled said they've seen their peers texting while driving in the previous month. And 84%said they saw people their age talking on a handheld phone."

Consumer Reports surveyed more than a thousand drivers between the ages of 16 and 21.

Rik explains, "When we asked about their own personal behavior, the numbers were lower. Still, one-third said they texted while driving in the previous month, and about half said they talked on a handheld phone."

At Consumer Reports auto test, teens taking a Tire Rack Street Survival course learned firsthand how driving skills quickly deteriorate when using a cell phone.

One teen told us, "I did really bad at it. I'm definitely not going to use a phone now."

Some good news from the survey - peer pressure may be helping curb distracted driving. Nearly 50 percent of those polled say they were less likely to talk or text with friends in the car.

Rachel says, "I don't think anyone should do it."

Jacqueline Colao says, "I probably wouldn't get in the car with them or tell them that I'm only going to drive with you if you're not going to text while you're driving."

As for setting a good example behind the wheel, parents, listen up!

Nearly 50% of teens reported having recently seen their mom or dad talking on a handheld cell phone. And 15% have seen parents texting.

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