A New Initiative Combats Teens' Deadly Texting-While-Driving Behavior

06/18/2015 10:16 am ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016

How long is five seconds?

It's the amount of time the average driver looks away from the road to send a text. If you're going about 55 mph, by the time you look up from your phone, you'll have driven the whole length of a football field without looking at the road. Touchdown? Not quite.

In the case of James Davenport, a Tennessee bus driver, those five critical seconds cost him his life, along with the lives of two young students and a Teacher's Aid. Police investigations show that Davenport, who was driving a bus of elementary school children, was distracted by texting.

Sadly, Davenport's story isn't unique. It's no secret that texting and driving has become an epidemic, especially among teenagers. A quarter of American teenagers openly admit to texting while driving. Something has to be done.

In an initiative to combat teens' deadly texting-while-driving behavior,, in partnership with Sprint, is appealing to teens through the unlikeliest of weapons: thumb socks (and the chance to win a 10k scholarship) through their fifth annual Thumb Wars campaign.

OhSayNation is supporting the campaign and has created an interactive quiz to educate teens on the dangers of texting while driving and provide tips on avoiding it without suffering serious texting withdrawal (it's real!). After learning whether they're among the worst offenders, teens are given free thumb socks (that's right - socks for your thumbs) to start a conversation and share photos with friends.

From the quiz, OhSayNation analyzes data about teen driving habits - like how safe they believe texting and driving is, and how much they think it affects their driving - and will give this data to the lawmakers who craft legislation so they can make our roads safer.

Why do teens continue to text while driving? Is it because they're crazy and impulsive? Or because of the music they listen to or the substances they imbibe? We can slap labels on teenagers, or we can choose to empower them. We can choose to engage, educate, and reflect on dangerous habits in a way that starts conversations and creates solutions.

Five seconds is long enough to end - or save - a life. Don't want to be a statistic? Put on your thumb socks, take the quiz, and keep your eyes on the road.