Teenagers who grow up in Virginia encounter a variety of cautions over the years: don’t do drugs, do your homework and don’t drink and drive. In recent years, however, an additional admonition has been added to that list: never text and drive. The addition is not without good reason, as a recent study has indicated that the habit may cause more fatal car accidents than drinking and driving, at least where teens are concerned.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, is one of many that show the extreme danger posed by texting behind the wheel. The most recent research, however, showed that texting and driving led to over 3,000 teen deaths last year. That figure is about 300 more than the number of teen fatalities caused by drunk driving in the same period. Given these staggering statistics, it’s not hard to believe that sending a text while driving can lead to death and its accompaniments: mental pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and the loss of a loved one.

Interestingly, the study, conducted by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, found that laws didn’t do much to curb the hazardous practice. In states that have laws against texting and driving, 57 percent of teens admitted to still sending a text message while driving. In states without such laws, that number was only slightly higher at 59 percent.

In Virginia, texting while driving is a primary offense. This means that police officers who believe a driver might be texting do not need any other reason to pull that person over. The state has also increased fines for those caught texting behind the wheel. Still, given the impact just one text can have on a victim’s life, these punishments may evolve further in the future.

Source: Geekosystem.com, “Texting and driving’s the new drinking and driving, at least among teens,” Ian Chant, May 13, 2013