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Government Targets Distracted Teen Drivers

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(YONKERS, N.Y.) -- Kids today are engaging in some very dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

That opinion was delivered by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Monday at Consumer Reports' headquarters in New York.  Specifically, LaHood warned that too many adolescents have fallen prey to distracted driving by fiddling with cell phones and other devices when they should be devoting all their concentration to the road.

LaHood cited a poll that reveals almost two-thirds of teens talk on the phone while driving, while another 30 percent admit to sending text messages.

The Consumer Reports study finds that young drivers aren't particularly concerned about bad habits, which LaHood says may be due to the fact that there's never been a time when they haven't had access to mobile phones and other hand-held contraptions, unlike previous generations.

According to the Department of Transportation, 5,550 vehicular fatalities and half-a-million injuries can be attributed each year to distracted driving, with about 18 percent of these accidents involving cell phone usage.

To help educate youngsters, the DOT has joined parents and teachers in a program to hammer home the message that teens need to focus on driving instead of multi-tasking behind the wheel.

To that end, the government is promoting a new website,, and rolling out a series of public service announcements that deal with the problem.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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