Hey Parents – Here’s a Novel Way to Get Through to your Teens about Driving While InTEXTicated

SMS Racing, a free downloadable video game, can help get the point across to your teen about texting while driving.

Teens text – a lot! In fact, statistics show that 87 percent of American teens age 14-17 own a cell phone. Sixty-eight percent of them send at least 21 texts per day and 18 percent send more than 200 in a day’s time. Unfortunately, an awful lot of that teen texting gets done behind the wheel.

In 2011, at least 23 percent – 1.3 million – car crashes involved cell phones. Texting takes away a minimum of five seconds of your time while you’re texting and driving. While that figure may sound miniscule to your kids, consider that if he’s driving 55 miles per hour, he’ll travel the length of a football field in that measly five seconds – and it only takes an average seven seconds for a car crash to happen. There ain’t much a kid can do in that spare two seconds.

Despite those scary figures…

  • 34 percent of teens admit to having texted while driving;
  • 77 percent are very confident or at least somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving
  • And a full 55 percent even cockily claim that texting while driving is a breeze.

Never mind the fact that teen drivers spend 10 percent of their driving time outside of their lane while texting. After all…

  • “I just read texts while driving, which is way safer than composing and sending one,” they say;
  • “I hold my phone up near my windshield so I can see both the road AND my texts,” they say;
  • “I slow down so I’ve got more room to stop if I need,” they say;
  • “I only text at stop signs and red lights,” they say.

Don’t buy that jive, Mom and Dad! Instead, show ‘em what’s up with a free download of the new SMS Racing video game. Designed to drive home the dangers of “diving while intexticated,” the game challenges players to drive a car around a track while receiving and responding to text messages. Gamers are penalized if they don’t respond to messages within ten seconds. But when they do respond, chances are their car’s hoof is about to make nice with the dirt at the bottom of a ditch.

It ain’t exactly Grand Theft Auto in terms of graphic sophistication, but it does a jam up job at getting the point across – without putting the lives of real-life fellow drivers, pedestrians or your teens at risk. A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute proved that visual-manual tasks while driving, such as reaching for a phone or texting , boosts the chances of getting into an accident three times. Distraction.gov reports that in 2011, 387,000 Americans were injured due to distracted driving, and more than 3300 were killed. Don’t let your teen be one of them.

How do you keep your smartphone-addicted teens safe behind the wheel? Post your tips on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.