Our Opinion: Discouraging developments on texting while driving

A new survey on teen texting while driving, a federal scolding and a criminal sentence were part of this week’s mixed bag of distracted driving news.

The survey released Thursday found about 58 percent of high school seniors and 43 percent of juniors said they had texted or e-mailed while driving during the previous month.

The survey by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention questioned more than 15,000 public and private high school students nationwide.

Teens are a focal point of many distracted driving initiatives, largely because of their preference for texting.

Researchers contend a typical teen sends and receives about 100 text messages daily. Deaths linked to distracted driving are most common among teens, accounting for about 16 percent of teen motor vehicle deaths.

Texting while driving for all age groups is banned by 39 states; an additional five states — including Missouri — target only younger drivers.

Texting and cellphone use among drivers was labeled a “national epidemic” this week by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“We need to teach kids, who are the most vulnerable drivers, that texting and driving don’t mix,” said LaHood, who also announced $2.4 million in federal grants to Delaware and California for public awareness campaigns.

The somber results of texting while driving were apparent in a Massachusetts courtroom on Thursday when a teenager became the first person in the state convicted of causing a fatal accident while texting.

The youth was sentenced to 21⁄2 years imprisonment, with a year to serve and the remainder suspended. He also was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and surrender his driver’s license for 15 years.

None of these developments heralds good news.

Separately, cellphones and motor vehicles are conveniences.

Combined, they are deadly.

Why is that equation so difficult?

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