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(NECN: Anya Huneke, Burlington, VT) - Nearly half of the U.S. states have banned text messaging while driving. In Vermont, legislation is pending. In the meantime, teens are learning how dangerous it can be, as part of a statewide campaign.
For many high schoolers, a car is one of life's basic necessities. These days, so is a cell phone. But, when the two mix, it can be a hazardous combination. That was the lesson today for students at Burlington High School in Vermont.
Drew Bloom of the Vermont Dept. of Motor Vehicles ran participants through a course designed to give them a safe sense of the dangers of texting while driving.
After navigating a golf cart along a winding path with both hands on the wheel, they did the same thing while writing out a text of their name and address.
Statistics suggest a serious and growing problem. Skip Allen of the Youth Safety Council of Vermont says 3/4 of teens own cell phones. On average, they send almost 3,000 texts per month -- up nearly 600% in two years.
In Vermont, 15 to 20-year-olds make up about 15% of licensed drivers.
A Virginia Tech study found that drivers look down for an average of 4.5 seconds while texting. To put that into perspective: at 55mph in one, two, three, four seconds -- you'll travel 360 feet, which is the length of a football field.
For these students, it was a fun, but sobering lesson. Assistant Principal Brian Williams hopes the lessons will stick.