63% under 30 admit driving while on phone

Consumers Union, Yonkers, NY, United States

Car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths. Nearly 5,500 people in the U.S. were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2009. And according to a poll LaHood released, 63% of drivers under 30 acknowledge using a handheld phone while behind the wheel.

30% say they've sent text messages while driving. "Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America's roads, and teens are especially vulnerable because of their inexperience behind the wheel and, often, peer pressure," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. He came to the headquarters of Consumer Reports magazine to announce a partnership aimed at getting young people to realize that "the safest way to get from one place to another is to hang up and drive." The program includes a flier that lists six steps parents can take, including setting a good example and setting and enforcing ground rules. The brochure is available online and will be distributed to schools and volunteer groups; a public service announcement has been produced and is being sent to TV stations nationwide; and a video meant to be played in retail stores including Wal-Mart could be seen by as many as 100 million people, Sec LaHood said.

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