How to Stop Teens Texting While Driving

Here's an idea: let's get more people to drive stick.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Earlier this week, Pew Research released some hair-raising stats:

  • One in three (34%) texting teens ages 16-17 say they have texted while driving.
  • Half (52%) of cell-owning teens ages 16-17 say they have talked on a cell phone while driving.
  • 48% of all teens ages 12-17 say they have been in a car when the driver was texting.
  • 40% say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

I have a daughter who is 18 months away from getting a driver's license, so I'm very worried. But anyone who is on the same road with a teen who is texting should be scared too. We're all in danger, according to this, and these are just the kids who are admitting what they're doing. I bet many more don't own up to it.

So here's my solution, sort of a Cash For Clunkers idea. How about a tax credit for purchasing manual transmission cars? Anyone who has driven a stick-shift knows it is physically impossible to text while driving. Let's put as many teens as we can in stick-shift cars—we'll get better gas mileage, safer streets and more focused drivers. Plus they're fun to drive no matter what age you are.

We need to get new drivers out of gas-guzzling family cars that you can control with one finger. This is an idea that the car manufacturers should embrace whole-heartedly, and I bet a lot of moms would rather have a fun run-around-town stick-shift in the driveway than that minivan. I know I would!

What should we call it: Four on the Floor Rebate? The Annual Manual Tax Credit? That's So Clutch?