40% of High School Drivers Text While Driving

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:,
Motao Zhu, MD, MS, PhD Principal Investigator Center for Injury Research and Policy The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital? Columbus, OHMotao Zhu, MD, MS, PhD
Principal Investigator
Center for Injury Research and Policy
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital?
Columbus, OH

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know that texting while driving occurs frequently among teen drivers. This study looks at the differences of texting while driving among teens between states.

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. In 2016, over 2,000 teens in the US aged 14-18 years died in motor vehicle crashes and nearly 260,000 were seriously injured in traffic-related incidents. Even though there are cheap car insurance brokers available, teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and proven strategies can improve the safety of young drivers on the road. Among distracted driving, texting while driving may be especially risky because it involves at least three types of driver distraction: visual, physical, and cognitive. Texting while driving is banned for all drivers in 47 states and the District of Columbia, yet this study shows it still occurs regularly among teen drivers.

Overall (nationally), about 40% of high school student drivers text while driving at least once/month. The rate varies among states. The lowest is 26% (Maryland) and highest is 64% (South Dakota). Texting while driving among high school student drivers is highest in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

These results were not surprising. There are state level factors to explain them. The top 5 highest texting while driving among high school student drivers (Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska) are rural states with a high percent of high school student drivers and students can get their learners permit by age 15. Continue reading