High school students have shown significant progress over the last 20 years in improving behaviors associated with car crashes, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported. However, the same group is now engaged in new dangerous behaviors, such as texting and emailing while driving.
Car crashes are still the number one cause of teen deaths, even with the improvements in safety among teens:
- From 1991 to 2011, the percentage of high school students who never or rarely wore a seat belt declined from 26 to 8.
- From 1991 to 2011, the percentage of students who rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol during the past 30 days declined from 40 to 24.
- The percentage of high school students who had driven a car during the past 30 days when they had been drinking alcohol decreased from 17 in 1997 to 8 in 2011.
- Between 2009 and 2011 encouraging improvements were also shown in the percentage of students wearing a seat belt, not riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol and not driving a car when they had been drinking alcohol.
Despite these drastic changes, new dangers have been introduced in the car. One in 3 high school students had texted or emailed while driving during the past month. This danger didn’t exist a few years ago.
“We are encouraged that more of today’s high school students are choosing healthier, safer behaviors, such as wearing seat belts, and are avoiding behaviors that we know can cause them harm, such as binge drinking or riding with impaired drivers,” said Howell Wechsler, Ed.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. “However, these findings also show that despite improvements, there is a continued need for government agencies, community organizations, schools, parents, and other community members to work together to address the range of risk behaviors prevalent among our youth.”