CHICAGO (CBS) – The campaign to stop teens from texting and driving is escalating, because the numbers of those admitting they text behind the wheel is skyrocketing with the rise in smart phones.
In fact, an overwhelming 75 percent confess to sending a text or reading a text while driving.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker has this look at what is being done to send a message to teens that they’re risking their lives.
“I used to be able to drive,” a young man says as we see him undergoing rehab in a documentary about texting and driving.
The young man is disabled for life, after being injured in car driven by his friend, who was texting while driving.
“This is the text message that changed my life forever,” the young man says as the text is displayed on the screen. The message simply says, “Where r.”
The scene is part of a documentary produced by AT&T called the last text. The documentary is a YouTube sensation, and a favorite with educational groups trying to send a message to teens that this seemingly simple act can kill.
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“We have nothing left now,” said Teresa Breen.
Breen lost her son, John, because of texting. He was sending a message to his girlfriend when he crashed his car.
Breen tells her son’s tragic story to teenagers every chance she gets, through an organization called Focus Driven.
“He thought he was invincible, and these kids also think that,” Breen said. “They think they can do anything and it’s not going to catch up with them.”
Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash than someone who is not texting. It’s even more dangerous for teens that are new drivers.
Teens at Taft High School, 6530 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., recently saw firsthand the difficulty of texting while driving with AAA’s distracted driving simulator.
“It’s taking your hands off the wheel so that you can hold the phone and text. It’s taking your eyes off of the road, and it’s taking your mind off the road,” said Nick Jarmunsz of AAA.
The demonstration proved effective for the students.
“It was difficult to text,” said Taft student Christopher Puckett. “I flew off the highway. That could kill you and anybody in the car, because I pretty much ran into the bridge.
Almost every student who tried the simulator crashed.
It was an eye-opening experience for the students, and a disturbing picture for some parents, like Lisa Jaffe. CBS 2 showed her the video of her daughter, Kayla.
“This is amazing,” Jaffe said. “She didn’t even have on her turn signals either, because she was too busy with her texting.”
On paper, Kayla looks likes millions of teens, racking up more than 5,000 messages a month. But behind the wheel, Kayla stays in control because of a feature on her phone, called “car mode.”
“It just lets you know that you’re in the car. You can’t text. You can’t receive text messages,” she said.
The text messages Kayla receives are stored, but she can’t hear or see them.
If Kayla didn’t have the app, would it tempting to respond?
“Honestly, I believe so,” she said. “Texting is a hard thing to do and to avoid. This car mode is great for me.
A feature like “car home” is standard on some smart phones. It shuts down your text if you’re traveling more than 10 miles an hour.