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CDC: 56 Percent of MT Teens Text and Drive

GRAPHIC: The new CDC National Youth Risk Behavior survey shows 56 percent of Montana teens admit to texting or e-mailing while driving. CREDIT: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
GRAPHIC: The new CDC National Youth Risk Behavior survey shows 56 percent of Montana teens admit to texting or e-mailing while driving. CREDIT: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
June 13, 2014

HELENA, Mont. - Teens in Montana and throughout the nation were quizzed about their behavior and lifestyle choices for the latest Youth Risk Behavior survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey showed teen smoking has dropped below the target level of 16 percent. But that victory is tempered by the number of young people nationally, 41 percent, who admit to texting or e-mailing while driving. In Montana, that rate is about 56 percent.

Stephanie Zaza, director of the division of adolescent and school health at the CDC, urged parents to step in to stop any behavior that takes a teen's attention away from the road.

"Parents play an active role in keeping their teen drivers safe," said Zaza, "by close monitoring, frequent discussions, parent-teen driving agreements and acting as a role model of good driving habits."

The CDC reported that car crashes are the single biggest killer of teens and young adults, causing 23 percent of deaths among 10-to-24-year-olds.

Tom Frieden, CDC Director, said the smoking reduction numbers are a fragile victory, because of the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, smoking pens and electronic hookahs, as well as a lack of regulations for those products.

"We're particularly concerned with e-cigarettes re-glamorizing smoking traditional cigarettes," said Frieden, "maybe making it more complicated to enforce smoke-free laws that protect all nonsmokers."

The study also found that teens are drinking fewer sodas and less alcohol. They're also getting into fewer fights, but condom use has also become less common, and most teens are still not eating a balanced diet. While most young people are spending fewer hours watching television, they've replaced it with time spent before a computer beyond school reasons.

Read more about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior survey.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT