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New Survey Says Young Drivers Still Text While Behind The Wheel

5:51 PM, Mar 7, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Tracy O'Carroll says her daughter, Sarah, was reading a text message while driving.  In an instant, the unthinkable happened.

"She died instantly.  She swerved on the other side of the curve.  The truck driver did everything he could to keep from hitting her," Tracy says.

Texting while driving is frighteningly common among younger drivers, according to a Consumer Reports National Research Center Survey.

Rik Paul says, "In our survey, nearly one in three drivers under 30 admitted that they'd recently been texting behind the wheel."

Consumer Reports checked out several new phone apps designed to limit texting and other distractions in the car.  Some, like DriveSafe.LYPro reads text messages to you. It sends your message back as a text.  That keeps your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.  But, it isn't perfect.

"We found that it doesn't always recognize what you're saying the first time, and repeating your commands can be annoying," Paul says.

Another app called txtBlocker goes even further.  Parents can install it on a teen's phone for $7 a month.

When the phone is in a moving car, txtBlocker blocks any incoming messages and disables the keypad.

"For a concerned parent, txtBlocker is the most effective system we've tried.  But, for all drivers, the best and least expensive way to stay safe is to simply turn off your phone behind the wheel," Paul says.

It's a message Tracy O'Carrol hopes will save lives.

Before you buy an app or hands-free system, check the product's website to be sure all of the features are compatible with your smartphone.

If you have T-Mobile, the carrier has its own service that blocks texting while driving.  It cost about $5 a month.

MORE: Guide To Distracted Driving And Teen Safety

The Department of Transportation just announced it will partner with Consumer Reports to fight distracted driving.

Click Distracted Driving Shatters Lives for free guide.

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