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Teens may encourage fellow drivers to put the phone down

There are all sorts of laws aimed at protecting teen drivers and passengers. In addition to laws that limit talking on a cellphone while driving, and banning texting while driving, there are also graduated licensing laws in some states to slowly introduce teens to driving.

A new study, though, finds that one way to get teens to put down their phones while they are behind the wheel is to listen to fellow teenage passengers. And it may be preventing car accidents.

Of course, having teen passengers in a car driven by a teen is a risk in itself as a study earlier this year showed. In April, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued a report that revealed that teenage drivers are much more likely to die in a crash if they are carrying teen passengers in the car.

But a new survey by Consumer Reports finds that nearly half of the 1,000 teens surveyed said that they were less likely to talk on a cellphone while driving if they had peers in the car with them. In general, 27 percent responded that they had texted while driving, and 47 percent had talked on a non-hands-free phone.

But teens overwhelmingly said that they believe that distracted driving is a big problem. And 49 percent of them reported asking a fellow teen driver to put down a phone to avoid distracted driving.

It's hard to know what to make of the data. Does it mean that all the news stories about the dangers of texting and talking on the phone while driving are finally starting to get through? We can hope.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Can teens prevent friends from texting while driving?" Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz, May 30, 2012

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