Texting while driving and other risky motor vehicle behaviors among US high school students

Pediatrics. 2013 Jun;131(6):e1708-15. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-3462. Epub 2013 May 13.


Objective: To assess the prevalence of texting/e-mailing while driving (TWD) and association of TWD with other risky motor vehicle (MV) behaviors among US high school students.

Methods: Data were used from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which assessed TWD during the 30 days before the survey among 8505 students aged ≥16 years from a nationally representative sample of US high school students. TWD frequency was coded into dichotomous and polychotomous variables. Logistic regression assessed the relationship between TWD and other risky driving behaviors, controlling for age, race/ethnicity, and sex.

Results: The prevalence of TWD on ≥1 days during the 30 days before the survey was 44.5% (95% confidence interval: 40.8%-48.2%). Students who engaged in TWD were more likely than their non-TWD counterparts to not always wear their seatbelt (prevalence ratio; 95% confidence interval: 1.16; 1.07-1.26), ride with a driver who had been drinking alcohol (1.74; 1.57-1.93), and drink alcohol and drive (5.33; 4.32-6.59). These other risky MV behaviors were most likely to occur among students who frequently engaged in TWD.

Conclusions: Nearly half of US high school students aged ≥16 years report TWD during the past 30 days; these students are more likely to engage in additional risky MV behaviors. This suggests there is a subgroup of students who may place themselves, their passengers, and others on the road at elevated risk for a crash-related injury or fatality by engaging in multiple risky MV behaviors.

Keywords: adolescents; motor vehicle crashes; texting while driving; unintentional injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Electronic Mail / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Schools
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Text Messaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Young Adult