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Letter: Should you send that text?

Do you know the No. 1 killer of teenagers? It is car accidents. While there are a multitude of reasons that contribute to the leading cause of death among teens, one of the most prevalent reasons is texting while driving.

When students at Newton High School were asked if they had ever texted while driving, a majority admitted to having done it before. Of those students, several said they believed texting while driving and being distracted by cellphones were the main causes of teen accidents.

Although many teenagers are aware that texting while driving is dangerous, they ignore the potential repercussions and convince themselves that typing a quick message is harmless.

Texting makes a person 23 times more likely to get into a car accident without taking into account other factors, such as inexperience.

"Safe driving and texting do not get along! You can't pay attention to the road if you're distracted, looking at your phone," says Alexis Lacierva, a student at Newton High School.

While sending or receiving a text may seem harmless, it is actually equivalent to crossing a football field at 55 mph, blind. Additionally, the use of cellphones reduces brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. The brain is not fully focused on what is happening on the road; instead, it is focused on the trivial text message that is being sent or received.

In 2011, 3,331 people were killed because of distracted driving, and that number is rising. This must be stopped. A text message play-by-play of what is happening at the party where you are headed is far less important than the lives you put at risk while not focusing on the road.

When put into perspective, texting while driving is an insanely dangerous idea and we must create awareness so that fewer teenagers are tempted to text and drive.

Crystal Pham, a senior at Newton High, says that it is imperative that young drivers are educated about the consequences of texting and driving.

"People can become more aware of the dangers of texting and driving if they take driver's education courses where they can be educated about the risks," says Pham.

Kiana Cohen, a Newton High student, says one of the best ways to minimize the temptation to text while driving is by "making sure all electronics are nowhere in sight."

Drivinglaws.org states that "the law prohibits drivers from using a cellphone, text messaging device, personal digital assistant (PDA), computer, or similar wireless device to write, send, or read text data while driving" in the state of Georgia. Texting while driving is illegal and a ticket can be issued if a person is caught.

Visit KeeptheDrive.com to find out more information and ways to get involved in helping teens become safe drivers.

-- Alexis Duffey

Newton County High SchoolCovington

Editor's note: Alexis Duffey is a member of the staff of the Newton High School newspaper, The Rampage. She originally wrote this letter to appear in the school newspaper.