According to distraction.gov, 11 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the wreck.
That age group, the website claims, has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.
“Everybody really is included in this problem — this distracted driving,” said Dylan Richardson, a representative from PEER Awareness, an organization focused on educating youth about healthy decisions. “It’s an epidemic, almost. It’s become the leading cause of death among teenagers and it’s a huge problem.”
PEER has teamed with AT&T and is campaigning across the country through its “Txtng & Driving ... It Can Wait” program. The program, which made a stop recently at Flowery Branch High School, places students in a driving simulator where they’re asked to text and drive, hopefully seeing firsthand the dangers of distracted driving.
“What we hope they gain from this is that, you know, they can go and crash in the simulation and there will be no real consequences for them,” said Richardson. “But hopefully after they do the simulator and they can see what can potentially happen if they were to go out and do that in real life, that maybe they’ll think twice about it when they do get in a car.”
A recent AT&T survey found that 97 percent of teens say they know texting and driving is dangerous, but 43 percent admit to doing it.
About three-quarters of the teens surveyed said texting and driving is “common” among their peers and that nearly 90 percent of teens expect a reply within five minutes of sending a text.
“It’s something that we need to change the world about,” said Anna Leigh Stewart, a Flowery Branch student and Miss Georgia Peach. “It’s not something that should be taken lightly.”