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Law Enforcement Warns of Dangers of Texting and Driving

Despite warnings, bans and even tragic accidents a high number of young people are still using cell phones behind the wheel.
Despite warnings, bans and even tragic accidents a high number of young people are still using cell phones behind the wheel.

Now, law enforcement is trying to raise awareness and help parents and educators reduce the tragedies.

A compelling video put together by AT&T and the Missouri State Highway Patrol shares stories of teens who died or whose lives were forever changed from texting while driving.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the number one cause of car accidents is caused by distracted drivers.

It's also the leading killer in young people. The largest distraction today is cell phones.

"It is especially dangerous for the young drivers because they're inexperienced. When you mix the inexperience to dial a number or text, which is illegal for young drivers, it puts them at 10 times more risk to leave their driving lane," said Sgt. Sheldon Lyon.

In 2009, Missouri lawmakers banned texting while driving for people under the age of 21.

Several states have taken on similar statutes, but a national consumer report shows people do it anyway.

63% of respondents under 30 years old reported using a cell phone while driving in the past 30 days.

30% of them texted while driving during that same period.

"Most of the friends I have text and drive," said driver Kindol Gregg. "I have seen it which is really sad because I know that a lot of accidents are caused because of it."

"A lot of people my age text and drive and I admit that I have texted and driven,"  said Aubrey Harris.

In the last quarter of 2010 Missouri troops issued 81 tickets for texting and driving.

Experts say the most effective method parents can do to reach their teens is to talk with them about the dangers of using a cell phone behind the wheel and more importantly to lead by example.

The Consumer Report study also showed that 78% of those surveyed said they reduced or stopped behaviors related to distracted driving.

Of those, 66% said they did so because of reading or hearing about the dangers.

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