02/25/2013 11:17 am ET Updated Apr 27, 2013

The Dangers of Texting While Driving

We've all done it at one point or another. You're driving along to work or school when that familiar beep reaches your ear drum. You look down, reach into your pocket and begin to read, your steering wheel in one hand, your phone in another. As you respond to that text from your friend, you look intermittently at the road, then back down at your phone. No worries. You're a good driver and a great multi-tasker. You've done it plenty of times before. What can go wrong?

What do you think is the number one killer of teens in the U.S? Drugs? Alcohol? Violence? The answer: distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, over 24 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use. What may be a quick 30-second phone call or a simple text reading "ya" is all it takes for someone to be injured or worse. Furthermore, drivers who talk on a cell phone, whether hands-free or not, are four more times likely to crash. The numbers don't lie: You simply can't be doing something as complicated as operating a car while trying to carry on a conversation with someone else about the complexities of life that come with being a high school student.

When you're a teenager, the risks of getting into an accident rise considerably. According to, more than 3,000 teens die in car accidents each year with about another 450,000 teens being injured. That means that almost 9 teens die each day in car accidents. Additionally, according to a University of Utah study, one text message is equal to having a .08 alcohol level. In most states, that's considered driving drunk. When you're a teen, it may seem like this weekend's party is the most important thing going on in your life right now, but anyone would agree that being alive is better off than something worse.

So, how do you prevent yourself from the dangers of distracted driving? The answer is simpler than you might think. Put your phone away (cue gasps). Put it on silent or just turn it off completely while driving. If someone is trying to reach you, you'll be better able to have a conversation with them once you're not doing 60 mph down the freeway. If you don't trust yourself not to look at your phone, throw it in the backseat. This way, you physically won't be able to get to it until you've arrived at your destination.

You may get away with talking on the phone now, but there may be a day when you don't. Dropping your phone may be an inconvenience, but it's better than the alternative -- being a statistic.