Tag Archives: activism

Texting and Driving: The New Drinking and Driving

By Raven Heroux, Editorial Intern

We’ve all heard about the dangers of drinking and driving, but did you know that texting and driving can be just as dangerous? How many times have you joked around with your friends about being unable to walk and text at the same time without bumping into others or tripping? If it’s difficult to walk and text it should be obvious that it is much more difficult to drive and text. Using a cell phone while driving, whether you are calling, talking, or texting, delays your reaction time the same amount as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit (University of Utah, 2009).

Driving is already hard enough when you’re new to being in the driver’s seat and on the road; adding distractions such as alcohol, phone calls, and/or texts does not make it any easier. Driving in bad weather (snow, rain, sleet, etc.) or in the dark creates especially challenging environments when all senses need to be fully alert. Although many teens believe that they are fully capable of staying alert when drinking and driving, or texting and driving, the number of accidents due to distractions is increasing (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Study and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Study, 2007).

The good news: The number of alcohol-related car crashes is decreasing.

The bad news: The number of young adult car crashes does not seem to be decreasing.

The problem: Texting and driving accidents are increasing, replacing the drinking-and-driving-related crashes.

Sitting in traffic is boring, yes, and maybe you “only text at stop lights,” but the temptation to answer a text while driving may be too much, and that’s where the problem lies. Even if you are the only one on the road, that doesn’t make it OK, because you can easily swerve off the road and get a little too friendly with a tree or telephone pole.

No one wants to listen to the “driving safety” speech parents and other adults give, but they need to. And this concern/article about texting isn’t your typical “be careful!” speech. This is a BIG problem—big enough to warrant a campaign, all in the name of texting and driving! Campaigns against drinking and driving have been around for many years, thanks to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), which has worked to stop drunk driving since the 1980s. MADD suggested a solution that’s become widespread: assign a “designated driver” if you want to drink heavily and/or find yourself unable to drive.

LIkewise, the new “Stop the Wrecks. Stop the Texts” campaign implores you to get a “designated texter”! If you are driving with a friend, there is no reason for you to be texting as well. Drinking and texting are two serious issues that young adults partake in while driving, and neither is safer than the other. With new distractions like cell phones, it is important to see the underlying message in both campaigns: Be safe!

According to a 2008 study at the Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging at Carnegie Mellon University, “Brain power used while driving decreases by 40% when a driver listens to conversation or music.” Forty percent—and your eyes are still on the road for this! Imagine NOT looking at the road. Your peripherals might be useful when trying to find your friends at lunch, but they aren’t going to be as useful when driving, whether you are looking at your phone or inebriated.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using a hand-held or hands-free cell phone; distractions of any kind can decrease your reaction time, and sometimes, a fraction of a second is all that matters. According to the Ad Council campaign, Stop the Wrecks. Stop the Texts.: “Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field.”

Did You Know?

  1. Of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction (18% of fatalities in distraction-related crashes) (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—NHTSA, 2009).
  2. The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group. 16% of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving (NHTSA, 2009).
  3. 22% of teens who drive while distracted say it makes driving less boring (AAA and Seventeenmagazine, 2010).
  4. 21% of teens who drive while distracted say they’re used to being connected to people all the time (AAA and Seventeenmagazine, 2010).
  5. While more than 90% of teen drivers say they don’t drink and drive, 9 out of 10 say they’ve seen passengers distracting the driver, or drivers using cell phones (National Teen Driver Survey, 2006).
  6. A texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than a non-texting driver. (Virgina Tech Transportation Institute—VTTI, 2009).
  7. 36% of teens say they have been involved in a near-crash because of their own or someone else’s distracted driving (Pew Research Center, 2010).

Next time you try to text “C U in 5!” to your friend, make sure you’re actually going to see them.

Stop the Wrecks. Stop the Texts.has several websites that you can check out for more information, including Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and a campaign toolkit on their main site. Click to find out what you can do to spread the word!

Become a Teen Voices Change Agent!

Calling all teen girls! Are you a Change Agent? Teen Voices wants to know where you create social change! How are you making a difference this holiday season? Are you volunteering at a local food pantry or homeless shelter? Caroling at nursing homes and hospitals? Are you donating winter coats, hats, scarves and mittens? Or maybe you tutor students. No matter where or how you create social change, we want to see how YOU are changing the world!

Becoming a Change Agent is simple! Follow these three steps and you can be a Change Agent too.

1. Bring Teen Voices magazine along with you the next time you volunteer or find another way to make the world a better place.

2. Snap a photo of yourself in action. Be sure to include the magazine in the photo!

3. E-mail your photo to teenvoicesmagazine@gmail.com. Please make sure your photo is saved as a jpeg or gif!

Don’t forget to include a description of the photo along with your name, age, and address. (We’ll only put your first name, age, and state online.)

Each month we’ll select one winner and the Change Agent will receive a FREE Teen Voices T-shirt. So get out there and change the world!

Celebrating Sixteen Days of Activism

By editorial intern Lauren Castner

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women! It also marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The campaign, started by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, raises awareness of violence against women and also establishes connections between international and local organizations and furthers the development of better strategies to combat violence.

The 16 Days idea was created to place pressure on the UN to consider “gender-based violence” a violation of basic human rights.  Today, more than 150 countries have participated in campaigns throughout the past 20 years, and almost 3,000 organizations have gotten involved (http://www.saynotoviolence.org/around-world/news/16-days-activism-against-gender-violence).

Last year’s campaign saw many events focusing on sex trafficking.  This year’s campaign focuses on the intersections of militarism and violence against women – in other words, sexual violence in conflict areas, assault on women in the military, and other related issues.

There is a great resource kit available for those who want to get involved!  It includes suggested activities, organizations to contact, posters, and information sheets you can distribute.  Check it out here; you can download it straight to your computer for free!  If you want to put together an activity, submit it to the 16 Days website and it will be put on an international calendar of events.

Indie Girl Shows You How to Kick Off Your Creative Project

By Teen Voices editorial intern Michelle Golden

Ever wanted to start your own band? Create an art exhibit? Form a dance troupe? Or maybe you’ve dreamed about starting your own fashion company. All you need is motivation, creativity, and inspiration – plus possibly a few words of advice from Arne Johnson and Karen Macklin co-authors of the book Indie Girl – and you’ll be well on your way to launching the project of your dreams.

In each chapter of Indie Girl, Johnson and Macklin take girls through what it takes to kick off a creative project. Want to start a band? Well, you’ll need some instruments (unless you’ll be going a capella, of course!), rehearsal space, a microphone, a computer, and performance space (for all those sold-out concerts you’ll be rocking out at). So then you’ll need to learn a few of your favorite songs (over time, you’ll be writing your own), find someone who can create a beat or two on the drums, and you’re already halfway there. So take out those earphones, make your own music, and bump Avril off the Top 40 charts with your new hit single!

Perhaps starting a band and writing your own music isn’t on your to-do list, but you’ve always loved writing song lyrics or poetry. Why not hold a poetry slam, like we do here at Teen Voices? This way, you can empower yourself and others simply and beautifully with the written word. Poetry is a great form of self-expression, and a poetry slam enables teen girls who have been writing poems to read them out loud to an audience. In the chapter “Hold a Poetry Slam,” Indie Girl encourages teen girls to “share a vision, thought, emotion or political idea in verse.” First things first, you’ll need to find a location for your event, recruit a few poets, and create a board of members to help out organizing, producing, judging etc. Since a poetry slam is a competition, judges and scorekeepers are necessary. But don’t let that discourage you. Don’t let the fear of not winning keep you silent! Want to read more on poetry slams? Check out our article “Speaking Up Is Slammin’” by teen editors Tekeisha Meade and Mirna Ortiz.

Indie Girl is a tool for launching your dream into reality. The book is just a little (really great) guide to help you along your journey. Just don’t substitute it for the really important tool: you!

Indie Girl: From Starting a Band to Launching a Fashion Company, Nine Ways to Turn Your Creative Talent into Reality