An anonymous national survey conducted last year found that 58 percent of high school seniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month. About 43 percent of high school juniors acknowledged they did the same thing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the survey results Thursday. Some earlier studies had suggested teentexting while driving was common though perhaps not quite so high.
Still, the numbers aren't that surprising to Amanda Lenhart, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center in Washington, told the Associated Press.
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Lenhart studies how teens use technology and the effects thereof.
A typical teen sends and receives about 100 text messages a day, and it's the most common way many kids communicate with their peers. Even during short car rides it's not uncommon for messages to be coming in and for teens to respond, she said.
"A lot of teens say 'Well, if the car's not moving and I'm at a stoplight or I'm stuck in traffic, that's OK,'" said Lenhart, who has done focus groups with teens on the topic.
Other teens acknowledge they know it's not safe, but think it is safer if they hold the phone up so they can see the road and text at the same time, she said.
The CDC survey didn't ask whether high school students' texting was done while the vehicle was moving or stopped. The survey is conducted every two years, but this was the first time it asked about texting while driving.
You can read more about the driving behaviors among the youth by clicking here.