U.S. Teens Ignore Laws Against Texting While Driving
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2009 Dec 11
Karen Cordova, a 17-year-old high school student and part-time supermarket cashier, admits she sometimes texts friends while driving home from work late at night, lonely and bored.
The Arizona teenager knows it's illegal in Phoenix and dangerous. She once almost drifted into oncoming traffic while looking at her phone.
But would a nationwide ban stop Cordova and her friends from texting in their cars? No way, she said.
"Nobody is going to listen," Cordova said.
With momentum building in Washington for all 50 U.S. states to outlaw text messaging behind the wheel, there is evidence that the key demographic targeted by such legislation, teen drivers, will not pay much attention.
At least one major study has found that, with mobile devices now central to their lives, young people often ignore laws against using cell phones or texting in the car. They know that it's hard for law enforcement to catch texters in the act.
"The handheld cell phone is relatively easy for us to spot, we can see when somebody has their phone up to their ear," California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Fran Clader said. "But with the texting it's a little bit more of a challenge to catch them in the act, because we have to see it and if they are holding it down in their lap it's going to be harder for us to see."
Cordova's classmate, 17-year-old Anna Hauer, says she often texts her boyfriend when she drives and doubts she or her friends would stop because of new legislation. "By the time they pull you over, the chances are you are going to be done with your text anyway so they can't exactly prove that you were texting," she said.