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Report on risky teen driving behaviors shows improvement

June 13, 2012

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Atlanta – U.S. high school students improved on many dangerous driving behaviors in 2011 compared to previous years, but continue to engage in other risky behaviors such as texting while driving, according to a report (.pdf file) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers evaluated data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System for the past 20 years. Among the findings for motor vehicle behaviors, in the previous 30 days at the time of the survey:

  • 8 percent never or rarely wore a safety belt, down from 26 percent in 1991
  • 8 percent drove after consuming alcohol, down from 17 percent in 1997
  • 24 percent rode with a driver who had consumed alcohol, down from 40 percent in 1991

Despite this progress, researchers found about one-third of high school students texted or emailed using a cell phone while driving, a new health risk factor tracked for 2011.

The researchers called for collaboration among communities, government agencies, and parents to encourage safe driving behaviors and curb cell phone use while driving.

The study, which also found reductions in other health risk factors such as drug use and physical inactivity, was published June 7.

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