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One in five high school students crosses the street while distracted by technology. It seems that everywhere you go, you see people with their heads down looking into their cellphone, not paying attention to where they are going. People will literally stop right in front of you just to check their Facebook notification or their text messages, which can wait until they are safely across the street. The use of smartphones has gotten so popular, and people need to remember the safety measures while using their cellphones, iPods or whatever kind of hand-held technology they are using.

Safe Kids Carroll County reminds parents and teens that distracted driving includes:

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•Applying make-up;

•Eating or drinking;

•Picking out music on iPods, iPhones;

•Talking to passengers in a car;

•Reading texts or emails.

Parents:

•Be sure to talk with your children about all of the dangers that phones and other distractions can have while either driving or crossing the streets.

•Tell your child to make sure they set a good example for their friends, and especially remember as parents, you are their role model. Practice this by being aware of what is around you, and to put down your devices and pay attention.

Teens:

•Be aware of what is around you at all times, whether you are walking or driving.

•Put down your devices and have your head up being aware of what is around you.

•Put your cellphone or technology on silent while on the road — it can wait.

•Give yourself time to get to your destination so you are not rushed.

Drivers:

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•Remember to pay close attention and look both ways for pedestrians or bikers who may be around you.

•Slow down in residential areas such as neighborhoods, schools and parking lots.

•Eliminate distracting items in your car so you can pay more attention to the road and your surroundings. Turn off loud music and devices such as cell phones, iPods, iPads, etc.

•If you must send a text message or use your phone for directions, have your passenger use the device instead or pull over safely.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Reaching for a phone, dialing, texting and other uses of portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times" (2009, VTTI). Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens. Teens especially need to be careful and understand that the texts can wait. Too many accidents are happening, which can easily be prevented just by focusing on the road and your surroundings rather than your cellphone.

Kelly Saffell-Culbertson is an intern at the Carroll County Health Department. For more information, visit http://www.safekids.org and http://www.sha.state.md.us or call Safe Kids Carroll County at 410-876-4448.

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