The Missouri Department of Insurance kicked off a new campaign Monday to keep “MO Eyes on the Road,” by convincing teens and their families not to text and drive.
In the state of Missouri, teen drivers and distracted drivers lead the way in causing deadly accidents.
Teens make up about 13% of those who die while on the road, which is the largest percentage for any group.
A majority of teens ABC 17 News spoke with admitted to texting and driving, although they all said they try not to.
In Missouri, it’s illegal for a driver to text under the age of 21.
18-year-old driver Austin Luebbert said, “I think its obviously distracting because you’re not looking at the road because even if you’re just glancing down then up at the road in brief second periods, you’re still not paying full attention to the road and things can happen really fast.”
Nationally, about 421,000 people are injured in a crash involving a distracted drive every year. That’s more than the entire population of St. Louis.
Missouri Department of Insurance Spokesman Chris Cline said that everyone needs to know texting can kill.
“Traffic accidents are actually the number one cause of death for the age group of 15 to 25 years of age and actually 80% of those are attributed to distracted driving.”
Looking down at a text on average takes about 5 seconds. If you’re going at least 55 miles per hour, that’s the length of an entire football field that you’re not paying attention to the road.
Teen drivers Austin Luebbert and Abby Masek both agree that it’s very dangerous to look down at your phone while driving.
Luebbert said, “It’s very tempting and I am guilty of looking at them but I try not to reply.”
“I just turned 16 so definitely not, it’s definitely a distraction. I’ve been tempted too, but I throw my phone in the back and never touch it because it can kill you easily,” said Masek.
Cline said, “It could be eating in the car, it could be talking with passengers in the car, it could be brushing your hair or putting your makeup on, or it could be people driving under the influence. We just want to make people aware of these things when they are getting behind the wheel of a car, because you’re not just putting your life in danger, you’re putting everyone else’s life in danger that’s around you.”
Many phone providers have apps like AT & T’s “Drive Mode” or Verizon’s “Safely Go” where the app automatically turns on when a car is going faster than 25 miles per hour, enabling texting and internet features while driving.