It's the most dangerous time of year for teen drivers

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by LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @LByronK5

KING5.com

Posted on June 17, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 17 at 6:20 PM

We've just entered the most dangerous time of year for teen drivers. And not surprisingly, one of the biggest problems is the cell phone.

Tessa, a graduating senior from Sammamish High School In Bellevue, says nearly all her friends drive and when they're behind the wheel, their cell phone is right next to them.

"I don't think teens are really getting the message, all my friends text and drive, they're not very strict about it,” she said.
         
And the Washington Traffic Safety Commission says summer is especially concerning. The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the most dangerous for teen drivers because of prom, graduation, and summer celebrations.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teens nationwide. Yet even knowing the dangers of distracted driving teens find texting hard to resist.

"I try to avoid it, but if it's my mom, I'll see what it says, or maybe at a stoplight respond quickly,” said Tessa.

Police say the best thing adults can do to stop teen texting is not to do it themselves.  During this spring's annual Click It or Ticket Campaign, which traditionally targets people not wearing seatbelts, police handed out 322 tickets for phone and texting offenses in King County - mostly to adults. That's up 63 percent over last year.

The joint effort of police and the health department will continue until people get the message.

"I think this is absolutely a winnable battle for us,” said Annie Kirk, King Co. Target Zero Taskforce. “We'll have extra officers throughout the summer looking for any driver regardless of their age, who’s using cell phone when driving.”

Police do hand out tickets to drivers who are texting while stopped at a light, although the state law is not entirely clear and some judges have thrown out the citations.

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