Study: How many teens text and drive in the Heartland?

Study: How many teens text and drive in the Heartland?

(KFVS) - According to a new Center For Disease Control and Prevention study, Missouri is one of the most dangerous states for teen texting and driving.

The study says 47 percent of teenagers in Missouri admit to texting and driving. And, 42 percent of teens in Illinois and 37 percent in Kentucky also say they've done it.

The results are from a survey in 2015 that collected answers from more than 100,000 high school students in 35 states and appear in the latest issue in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Rachel Penny with the Southeast Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety thinks some teens lie about using cellphones behind the wheel because they do not want to get in trouble.

Penny also coordinates "Traction," a program that empowers students to prevent traffic crashes by starting initiatives at their own schools.

Penny said one of the most common topics students choose is distracted driving which includes texting, using social media or your phone's GPS.

She thinks cell phone usage behind the wheel is a growing problem, especially for teens.

"They are inexperienced drivers period, so when you throw them out there and they don't know the laws and then you throw that cell phone in their hand and they're not focusing on the road," Penny said. "If we eliminate the distractions and put on the seat belt it takes two seconds and it would save so many lives."

If you are struggling to refrain from picking up your phone when it beeps in the car, Penny said there are things you can do to kick you texting and driving habit.

"If you think that phone, whatever is on the other end is more important than your life, pull over in a safe spot and check it," Penny said. I mean other than that just get where you are going. You can turn it on silent. If there is somebody else in the car you can have a designated texter, so that person can text for you."

There is a ban against texting and driving for drivers of all ages in Illinois and Kentucky, but Missouri law just makes the act illegal for motorists under the age of 21.

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