Washington: Forty-three per cent of US high school students admit to texting while driving - a "national epidemic" in the country - according to a new study.
More than four in 10 of high school students of driving age, who were surveyed in 2011, reported texting while driving at least once in the past 30 days, according to a study to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington.
"Texting while driving has become, in the words of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a 'national epidemic'," said principal investigator Alexandra Bailin, a research assistant at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the US, and using a phone while driving significantly increases the risk of accidents in this age group, AAP News, the official news magazine of The American Academy of Pediatrics, reported.
The specific act of texting while driving has been found to raise the risk of a crash by 23 times, leading many to conclude that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated.
"Although teens may be developmentally predisposed to engage in risk-taking behaviour, reducing the prevalence of texting while driving is an obvious and important way to ensure the health and safety of teen drivers, their passengers and the surrounding public," Bailin said.
Bailin and her colleagues analysed data from the 2011 Youth Risk Behaviour Survey of 7,833 high school students who were old enough to get a driver's license in their state.
Survey results showed that males were more likely to text while driving than females (46 per cent vs 40 per cent), and the prevalence of texting increased with age (52 per cent of those over 18 years vs 26 per cent of 15-year-olds).