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Parents' texting obscures warning to teens

Monday - 5/14/2012, 7:10am  ET

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The National Safety Council estimates a quarter of all crashes are due to distracted driving. (File Photo)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Most parents know "do as I say, not as I do" isn't a particularly strong strategy in teaching children, but teens say they're getting mixed messages regarding texting while driving.

In an online survey of teen drivers with smartphones, while young drivers hear their parents warnings, they see those parents texting "all the time."

The new data, released by AT&T in conjunction with the Pew Research Center, is detailed in The Washington Post.

Smartphone use is especially dangerous for young people since auto crashes is the leading cause of death of teenagers. The National Safety Council estimates a quarter of all crashes are due to distracted driving.

Most teenagers who say they've witnessed their parents texting behind the wheel admit to doing it themselves, according to the study.

With so many communications options, it is difficult to ignore responding to a message, by phone, email or text.

Text messages and emails may be especially difficult to postpone answering because drivers in the AT&T study say they expect to receive a reply to a text or email within 5 minutes.

A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found 13 percent of drivers in crashes between 18 and 20 admitted they were using their phone at the time.

More than two-thirds of people under 25 have a smartphone, according to recent estimates.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)