Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Over half of Texas teens admit to drinking and driving, but the survey doesn’t stop there

Posted by lapearce on June 16, 2009

A recent Allstate survey of teen driving habits in Texas came across some shocking results. The study, which surveyed teens in 11 different Texas cities found:

  • 88% say they text message or talk on their cell phones while driving.
  • 48% say they were stopped by police during their first year of driving.
  • 33% got in an accident during their first year of driving.
  • 30% say they have driven so fast they’ve lost control of their car or have been a passenger in a car with a teen driver who lost control.

These numbers are just shockingly high. A recent AAA study in Colorado found only half of the teens text there, which is still more than the national average.

Texas has decent GDL requirements: six month permitting process, afterward only one other passenger under 21 allowed for the first six months, no night driving and no cell phone use (in effect September 1). Where they are lacking, however, is on their alcohol laws. In California, any minor caught with so much as a .01 BAC lose their license for a year, or until they are 18. Texas, however, just has a fine, community service, and at the very most, six months in jail.

What is most shocking about these numbers? Texas isn’t even one of the more dangerous places for new drivers. They came in 26th on Allstate’s recent study on the most dangerous places for teen drivers in the United States, and got good rankings on the GDL laws. Some of Texas’s cities, like Austin and Dallas scored rather poor in the survey, but still better than a lot of other states. If Texas’s teen driving deaths are right in the middle of the curve, and yes nearly 90 percent of teen drivers in Texas text while they drive, over half drink and drive, and 30 percent were in crashes in their first year of driving, what are teens doing in Mississippi or Alabama, or one of the other 25 states that were ranked as more dangerous?

Also, we need to consider that these teens know what they are doing is against the law, and probably that it is wrong. Cellphone use will be illegal among teen drivers in Texas soon, yet nearly 9 out of 10 teens admit to using their phones while driving. Speeding is illegal, yet 30 percent sped so fast that they lost control, and I’m going to wager that most of the near 50 percent that were stopped by police were done so for speeding. It looks to me like laws aren’t the answer. One quote I had in one article about one state’s GDL laws (I’ve had too many to be able to find it quickly) said that the laws were meant to encourage young drivers to be safer. That is really all they can do. It’s another layer of pressure for new drivers to do the right thing. If they know talking on the cell phone is dangerous but they still do it, maybe the fear of a ticket will keep them off the phone. In Texas, at least, this mindset doesn’t seem to be working.

How will we get through to these kids?

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One Response to “Over half of Texas teens admit to drinking and driving, but the survey doesn’t stop there”

  1. chirpchirp said

    Great post! Its infuriating how many drivers (not just the young ones) think they can handle the distraction of using a cell phone while driving. Driving a car is such a serious responsibility. I can’t believe it when people assume they can safely drive a car while sleepy, drunk, or on a phone. A Dallas attorney, Amy Witherite, has researched and posted very informative articles which I have appreciated when wanting to be informed about driving dangers, responsibilities, and recovery. There are many programs out there that educate drivers on precautions that should be taken, dangers to be prepared for, and training to be better equipped. Its always great seeing people behaving responsibly and preparing themselves and others to face the necessary dangers of driving.

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