Study shows teens text and drive numbers on the rise

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- At any moment on a regular weekday in 2011, about 660,000 people across the U.S. were sitting in the driver’s seat and talking on their cell phones.

Twice that number were engaging with their mobile device in some way, checking calendar appointments perhaps, and replying to email.

According to Wisconsin State Patrol the number of people cited for texting and driving in Wisconsin in 2011 was at 219. In 2012 the number rose to 347 people cited state wide.

“No text message is worth your life. It’s not worth it”

That is a message that Garry Sherwood with Accountable Driver Education in Eau Claire is trying to send to nearly 60 students through the educational videos every month, but he says it's not an easy task.

“I stress it extremely hard, about texting-and-driving, not to do it; that it's illegal until the age 18. And they should turn their cellphones off when they're in the situation, when they're driving,” said Sherwood.

A recent study says texting-and-driving stats haven't dipped since 2010, and some trends, like young drivers who use cell phones, seem to be on the rise. The new numbers come from the most recent National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) conducted by a wing of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“It does bother me. I wish we had a better way of handling this, but it's something they grow up with; and you hand them the car keys, they go ahead and get in the car, they close the door, they're going to do what they want to do,” said Sherwood.

Also according to the study women were more likely than men to reach for their cell phones while driving. Sherwood says one young lady in his class has trouble putting her phone away already, reaching 16,000 texts on her phone last month.

“It's a phenomenal amount, and I just know she is going to be the person, to when she gets in her car it's going to be very difficult if not possible for her to answer that text,” said Sherwood.

And Sherwood says they're plenty of ways to prevent kids from using their cellphone, but most of it starts at home. Sherwood suggest the iZUP app that costs about $20 a year and blocks all calls and texts if a car is moving faster than five miles per hour.

"That's my goal to get them to put their cell-phone down, parent’s goal is to reinforce it and not do it too,” added Sherwood.

The same study published in March of this year says the nasty habit of texting and driving is much worse in the U.S. than in European countries, including U.K, France, Spain and others.

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