July 27, 2007
Driving and... Texting? - Examine how text messaging can turn into a big driving distraction.
Eye on the Driver - Learn about some high-tech devices that keep an eye on young drivers.
Mileage Myths - Find out whether some popular gas-saving methods are real or fiction.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: We're revved up and ready to go with our latest summer Webcast of CNN Student News. Today we're going to be focusing on teen driving. Of course, we're glad to have you along for the ride. I'm Carl Azuz. Sending and receiving text messages may not seem like a big deal, but texting while you're behind the wheel. Now that can be a serious driving distraction. And it might feel like a mechanical watchdog's along for the ride, but several teens say they're better drivers thanks to new in-car devices aimed at improving safety.
AZUZ: When you're cruising down the streets, you know that you want to keep your eyes on the road. But there are plenty of things that can make you lose focus, and one of the biggest distractions may be cell phones. In fact, in a recent survey, 89 percent of teenagers said they had seen other teens talking on a cell while they were driving. And it's not just phone calls that are causing concerns here. As Mary Snow explains, text messaging is becoming a vexing vehicular issue.
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MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: AAA says it has no hard numbers on how many accidents are caused by texting while driving because it's a relatively new problem. But AAA says a recent survey of one thousand teen drivers found nearly half text messaged while behind the wheel.
JUSTIN McNAULL, DIRECTOR, STATE RELATIONS, AAA: For teens, text messaging while driving is just as commonplace as talking on the cell phone is for them, which, for a lot of adults, is just mind-boggling.
SNOW: But it's not just teens who are distracted. Washington recently became the first state to outlaw text messaging by all drivers after lawmakers cited a five-car pileup caused by a driver using a BlackBerry device. Now, at least six other states are considering similar legislation. But some say there's reluctance on the part of legislators to pass hasty laws.
MATT SUNDEEN, TRANSPORTATION ANALYST, NAT'L CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES: Certainly there's opposition to taking away those types of devices both within the legislature and in the public at large.
SNOW: Some say new laws aren't needed, that there should be more of an emphasis on educating drivers on the dangers of distractions, not just by cell phones, but by anything. Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
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GEORGE RAMSAY, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Time for the Shoutout! Which of these novels does the term "Big Brother" come from? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Of Mice and Men, B) 1984, C) Band of Brothers or D) My Brother's Keeper? You've got 3 seconds -- GO! The answer: B. George Orwell's novel 1984 features the character "Big Brother," which became a term for someone who's always watching you.
AZUZ: Someone's who's always watching you, watching your every move? How about something, like a mechanical passenger that lets you know when you've broken a rule of the road? Some might see it as a type of "Big Brother." But Greg Hunter tells us that parents -- and even some teens -- are saying the high-tech devices are an effective tool in preventing accidents.
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GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This teenage driver was talking on her cell -- without a seat belt -- when she drove off the road.
HUNTER: A dashboard camera from DriveCam captured the moment. She wasn't injured, but it may have scared her into driving better.
HUNTER: 17-year-old Katie Baldwin is getting a similar lesson. She's enrolled in American Family Insurance's teen safe driver program, which provides DriveCams in Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota. The DriveCams record teens continuously, catching them without seat belts, texting and taking their eyes off the road.
KATIE BALDWIN, TEENAGE DRIVER: It feels like my parents are always there, 24/7 with me, always watching how I'm driving and catching me at the worst moments.
HUNTER: Parents are notified via e-mail only when there are incidents and see the 10 seconds before and after, like this one when Katie accidently ran a red light and was almost hit by oncoming traffic. She says DriveCam has made her a safer driver.
BALDWIN: I've learned from it and been able to actually see what I did wrong.
HUNTER: Katie's dad, Dale, agrees.
DALE BALDWIN, KATIE'S FATHER: There's a lot less goofing around in the car. There's a lot more paying attention to the road.
HUNTER: DriveCam is not the only high-tech method helping parents. Mobile TEEN GPS deploys GPS tracking units, so Angela Williamson, a Georgia mom, gets a text message when her 16-year-old son Sawyer drives faster than 45 miles per hour or strays beyond a certain area. Sawyer says the GPS is like "Big Brother."
HUNTER: You don't like it?
SAWYER: But it makes me a better driver.
HUNTER: Greg Hunter, CNN, New York.
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RAMSAY: See if you can ID Me! I am a government office that was created in 1970. My job is to safeguard health and the environment. My initials are EPA. I'm the Environmental Protection Agency, and I lead the country in environmental research and science.
AZUZ: When it comes to ways the EPA protects the environment, fuel might not be the first thing you think of. But the agency runs dozens of tests on that food for cars. It's the one thing all drivers have in common: You're not getting anywhere unless you fill up your tank. Now you might think you know some secrets to stretching a gallon of gas. But we're here to bust up a few myths about mileage.
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AZUZ: Gasoline's become a pretty intrusive topic: It goes into your car; you go into debt. Now everyone's got theories on getting better gas mileage. And -- sorry to say it -- many of them are bunk.
Take additives, for example. Consumer Reports and the Environmental Protection Agency tested dozens of these items. And they all helped, right? Wrong. Not one of them showed any significant gain in gas mileage.
How about sweating? Isn't sweltering in a stifling sedan worth it if you can save gas by keeping your windows rolled up and the air off? Apparently not. Two separate studies in 2005 -- by auto site edmunds.com and Consumer Reports -- on a sedan and an SUV found neither air conditioning nor open windows significantly affected highway gas mileage.
Changing lanes now, Wednesday, some say, is the day to get your tank topped off before the weekend rush. But Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service says there's no ideal day to buy gas. What you can do is check out sites like Gasbuddy.com. The Web site helps you find nearby gas stations that are charging less than... you got it!
So what else CAN you do to get more mileage? Check your tires, for one thing! Proper pressure will keep you safer and help a bit with the mileage. Also, lighten your load. Kick out your friends. Or just remove the bookbag and bowling ball you keep in the trunk; they'll protest less. Oh, and street races are out. If you're burning rubber, you're burning gas. Sure, you may get beaten at a stop light, but you'll also get the last laugh when the other guy makes a pit stop.
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AZUZ: And that's where we hit the road, Jack. But we'll be back with a new CNN Student News summer Webcast soon. Until then, drive safely, everyone. Thanks for watching. I'm Carl Azuz. E-mail to a friend