In a recent national survey by AAA, 46 percent of teens admitted to text messaging while driving and 51 percent admitted to talking on their cell phones while driving.
The Colorado survey, which said 51 percent of Colorado teens text-and-drive, also revealed that 66 percent of Colorado teens admitted to talking on their cell phones while driving.
AAA says the survey was conducted from Aug. 20 to Sept. 21, during which time 460 Colorado teens from 84 cities statewide filled out the survey.
"I know I'm guilty of texting while driving and I'll have to stop that," said South High School senior Cierra Hilton.
Despite the number of Colorado teens who admitted to texting-and-driving, 97 percent surveyed said text messaging while driving is dangerous and 81 percent of respondents believe there should be some legal limitation on cell phone use (including text messaging) while driving.
"Hopefully, the results of this survey will raise awareness of the problem of teen cell phone use while driving, and encourage parents to discuss this important issue and set a good example," stated Wave Dreher, traffic safety specialist with AAA Colorado in a press release.
Hilton and classmate Abby Reynolds are heads of the school's Student Senate. That group began a campaign on Tuesday to get students to pledge to not text while driving. To agree to the pledge, students signed their names on a van.
"As my mom told me, with freedom comes responsibility," said Reynolds.
Rylie Thordsen lost her friend, Carissa Thompson, in June. The teen was killed when her car hit the back of an 18-wheeler. Investigators think she was texting while driving.
"I know when I get in cars, I have to take phones from my friends," said Thordsen.
Thordsen's mother said she never thought text messaging would be a part of the driving lessons she taught to her daughter.
"You worry about things they can prevent … somebody turning in front of them … I never even thought I'd have to talk about that," she said.
Teens agree - parents need to know their children's driving habits.
Hilton and Reynolds say most parents don't realize their teens can send a text message without even looking at the phone.
"It's called predictive text," the two say simultaneously.
"It (the phone) predicts what you're trying to say," added Reynolds. "It's really easy."
Additionally, 74 percent of Colorado teens surveyed admitted not knowing traffic laws for cell phone use in Colorado and 73 percent of teens said strict driving penalties (such as losing their license) would make them less likely to text message while driving.
AAA also reported that 38 percent of Colorado teens surveyed admitted to taking their eyes off the road when texting while driving.
Colonel Mark Trostel, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, says driving is a responsibility that requires undivided attention.
"If you need to send a message or make a phone call, pull over and stop in a safe place and then send your message," stated Trostel in a press release regarding the statistics of the survey. "And, remember to always buckle up yourself and your passengers."
Authorities encourage parents to discuss safe driving habits with their teens.
A complete list of survey questions as well as tips from AAA for parents and "eye-opening" anonymous comments from teens who took the survey, visit www.aaa.com/teens.
AAA plans to use the results of the survey to educate teen drivers.
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