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Updated: July 9, 2014 7:16 AM | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Texting while driving common among Ontario teens: study



Almost half of Grade 12 students in Ontario have texted while behind the wheel, a new survey says. Shutterstock/Sean Locke Photography

Almost half of Grade 12 students in Ontario have texted while behind the wheel, a new survey says. Shutterstock/Sean Locke Photography

A survey of Ontario high school students reveals more than one-third of all licensed drivers in Grades 10 to 12 admit to having texted while driving.

That percentage increases to 46 per cent of licensed students in Grade 12. 

Approximately 108,000 adolescent drivers surveyed said they have texted while driving at least once in the past year, according to the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS), a biannual study conducted for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

"We asked about texting while driving because research shows that this is a very hazardous behaviour," said CAMH senior scientist Dr. Robert Mann. "We were surprised to find that so many young people are taking this risk."

The report looked into other health indicators for teenagers in the province. It found:

- Up to 79 per cent of teenage cyclists report they do not always wear a helmet and 53 per cent report rarely or never wearing a helmet.

- Young girls reported contemplating suicide at twice the rate of boys.

- 28 per cent of respondents reported there was a time in the past year when they wanted to talk to someone about a mental health problem, but did not know where to turn. Again, girls were twice as likely as males to report an unmet need for mental health support at 38 per cent versus 19 per cent respectively.

- More than 80 per cent of students visit social media sites daily, with about 10 per cent spending five hours or more on these sites daily.

- 25 per cent of students play video games daily or almost daily, with males being almost four times as likely as females to play.

- Schoolyard bullying fell from 33 per cent reporting it in 2003 to 25 per cent in 2013.

The OSDUHS is a biannual survey that reveals important trends in mental and physical health and risk behaviours among Ontario's middle and high school students.

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