Text messaging is all the rage with young people. More than 60 per cent do it every day. But one message is clear: text messaging while driving can be extremely dangerous.

"It has an equivalence to alcohol-impaired driving," said Walter Barta of the Alberta Motor Association.

Teens texting

Danielle Munroe and Madison Spencer are both in Grade 11 with less than six months driving experience. Both are perfect examples of the attitudes many teens have on texting while driving.

"If you would do it, it would be on a straight away, not when you're turning or going somewhere in the city," said Munroe.

Spencer agreed.

"A lot of kids text with their phones down. It's not like they hold it up," said Spencer.

Deadly effects

The teens were put through a course to test how their driving was affected by texting. Their speed slowed dramatically, their lane spacing was non-existent and both wandered from side to side.

"(Munroe's) eyes frequently dropped to the cell phone up to four seconds and in a 50-kilometer zone in Edmonton, that's deadly," said Rick Lang, Munroe's instructor.

Dangerous for all drivers

That point should be sobering for all drivers.

"The message has to be consistent for not only young drivers who might not have a lot of experience, but to senior drivers as well," said Staff Sgt. Barry Maron of the Edmonton Police Service.

The statistics are alarming:

-The risk of getting into a crash increases 400 per cent when the driver is text messaging.

- Four out of five collisions involve some form of inattention.

- Although 89 per cent of American adults admit texting and driving is dangerous, more than half say they are repeat offenders.

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