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That's the number of text messages sent and received in my household during the month before school started. That's 647 for Mom, 6348 for teen son, and 11,752 for teen daughter. (Dad has a different phone plan so his texts are on my bill, but I would guess about 300-400 for him.)

Yes, we have unlimited texting on our cell phone plan. That number will decrease significantly now that school has started - at least for the teen daughter. The teen son is now in college, so his texting may actually increase. We'll see.

With one teen driver (and with another one in the near future), we have had many discussions about safe driving habits, including not texting, having too many friends in the car, alcohol use, etc. But as a mom, I have a new Missouri law in my corner that I can use to help keep my family, and yours, safe.

On Aug. 28, 2009, a new Missouri law will prohibit drivers 21 years of age or younger from sending, reading, or writing an electronic message while driving.

The following information is from a press release from MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation).
“Young people will be forced to at least keep their fingers off their keyboards while they drive,”said Leanna Depue, director of Highway Safety for the Missouri Department of Transportation. “The law is a small step toward counteracting some of the distracted driving that causes crashes in Missouri.”

According to a recent study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic crashes in Missouri and nationwide. Eighty percent of crashes involve some form of driver distraction, and teens admit texting is the number one thing that diverts their attention while driving. Half of all teen drivers say they send text messages while driving.

Studies show texting drivers spend up to 400 percent more time with their eyes off the road. “With cars traveling at 70 mph, it is horrifying to realize so many young, inexperienced drivers don’t have their eyes on the road,” said Depue. Legislation encouraging these types of laws which ban texting have been encouraged at the federal level with proposals saying states who didn’t ban texting could risk losing federal highway funding. Missouri is the 23rd state to ban texting while driving, but is one of only nine to single out a particular age group. The fine for texting while driving under Missouri’s new law is $200. The bill’s sponsor was Senator Ryan McKenna.

So what can FCCLA chapters do? One easy thing to do would be to simply help spread the word about this new law to your peers. Use resources such as for ideas to implement in your school to prevent distracted driving. One clever chapter used the phrase "don't drive intexticated" in a FACTS (Families Acting for Community Traffic Safety) project last year.

Preventing accidents and deaths among teens (and others) is a really important topic to me - 18 years ago this summer, my 19 year-old younger brother was killed in a car accident. While he didn't have a cell phone, he was probably distracted in some way. Cars just don't wrap themselves around trees when drivers are attentive and concentrating on the task at hand. We'll never know what caused his accident. But what I do know is that a seat belt could have saved his life. And I do know that when given the chance to remind someone to drive carefully without distraction (and buckle up) I don't keep my mouth shut.

Don't keep your mouth shut, either - spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving. Don't text and drive. Buckle Up. Arrive Alive.
Not yet convinced? Watch this PSA on YouTube - Texting While Driving. Warning - it is graphic.


  1. My concern is it's not just teens who are driving distracted, it's adults too. I've seen people swerveing all over the road while they are trying to do something with their cell phone... what will it take to make our roads safe for everyone?

  2. As the mother of a soon to be teen driver the statistics are frightening and I am all for ANYTHING that will help keeps our kids safer on the roads. But I agree with the poster above, adults have unsafe driving habits as well. I sadly was one of them until recently
    (talking NOT texting) but still its distracting. Put the phones down while on the road!