A survey about the driving habits of teenagers had some good news and bad news.
The good news was that high school students are buckling up more, and they are less often getting into a vehicle with driven by someone who’s been drinking.
The bad news was that 1 in 3 high school students had texted or emailed while driving a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days.
Those are the results of the 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which was released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although motor vehicle crashes account for more than 1 in 3 U.S. teen deaths each year, the survey found what it called show dramatic improvements during the past 20 years in motor vehicle safety among youth:
- 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.
However, “the YRBS found that the use of technology among youth has resulted in new risks; specifically, 1 in 3 high school students had texted or emailed while driving a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days,” the CDC said in a press release.
“The survey also found that 1 in 6 had been bullied through email, chat rooms, instant messaging, websites, or texting during the past 12 months,” according to the release.
Last year was the first that the YRBS included questions about bullying through electronic media and about texting or emailing while driving.
“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,” Howell Wechsler, director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, said in a statement.
“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,” he said.
The 2011 YRBS results show that high school students still engage in risk behaviors that are harmful to their health and increase their risks for disease and injury:
- Current cigarette use did not change significantly between 2009 (19 percent) and 2011 (18 percent).
- During that same time period, current marijuana use increased from 21 percent to 23 percent although there has been an overall decrease in current marijuana use (from 27 percent in 1999 to 23 percent in 2011).
- Current marijuana use among high school students was more common than current cigarette use (23 percent compared to 18 percent).
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
firstname.lastname@example.org :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.