Teens Still Drive And Text
|By Reena Singh and Jacob Tierney, Watertown Daily Times, N.Y.
| McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
Sept. 29--In the five seconds it takes to read a text while driving 55 miles per hour, a driver will travel the length of a football field -- without looking at the road.
Yet texting behind the wheel is a bad habit that many teens and twenty-somethings like
Zachary T. Pitts
, Theresa, simply cannot shake.
Despite the flashing signs on state highways notifying drivers of the increased penalties if caught, the 18-year-old Jefferson Community College student says he is not the only one.
"I still text and drive," he said. "I do it all the time. I'm just more careful."
In an effort to get drivers to put away their phones when they drive, the state has sharply hiked the penalties for texters, who now are slapped with a $150 fine and get a five-point offense on their license if they are caught.
That's nearly half of the 11 points it takes for a driver's license to be suspended, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
For those with a junior operators license, a driving-while-texting violation results in a six-month suspension.
Jefferson County Undersheriff
Paul W. Trudeau
said the worst offenders are between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.
"It has increased as one of our main problems," he said.
According to a news release from Gov.
Andrew M. Cuomo
, there was a 365 percent increase in the number of tickets issued in New York this summer for distracted driving -- 21,580 -- compared to last summer's 5,208.
And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people die every day from distracted driving.
and fellow JCC student
Tyler M. John
, 17, both have known people who have died after answering a text.
"I have checked my phone, but I don't do it often. Just to change a song," said
, Philadelphia. "I'd just be too scared to die."
, sending a text or checking his phone while he drives is less about the dangerous aspects.