You will be hard pressed to find a teenager not attached to a cell phone nowadays – even while driving, and even in a state that has a law banning the use of cell phones by teen drivers.
A recent insurance industry study shows teenagers are not heeding laws banning the use of cell phones while driving, and suggests parents need to step up and take a more active role in helping to curb this unsettling trend.
Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, who are involved in three times as many fatal accidents as all other drivers.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied North Carolina’s law, passed in 2006, which fines drivers 18 and under if they are using a cell phone while driving.
"Cell phone bans for teen drivers are difficult to enforce," says Anne McCartt, the institute's senior vice president for research and an author of the study.
“Drivers with phones to their ears aren’t hard to spot but it’s nearly impossible for officers to see hands-free devices or to guess how old drivers are.”
Researchers found, in the North Carolina study that 11 percent of teen drivers leaving 25 high schools during the two months prior to the ban taking effect, were using their cell phones. About five months following the ban, during the spring of 2007, nearly 12 percent were observed using phones.
A separate telephone survey of North Carolina teens and parents showed widespread support of the state law, but more than three in five reported disciplinary action was rare if not present at all.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol issued 37 citations to teens while operating a vehicle in all of 2007. So far this year, 28 citations have been issued.
Targeting inexperienced motorists, 17 states have adopted bans on cell phone use while driving, as has the District of Columbia, according to the American Automobile Association.
That follows a 2003 recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board that states limit young drivers from cell phone use. #