TODAY   |  January 31, 2012

Teen: Texting, driving ‘not worth your life’

Jamie Nash habitually texted while she drove, but after 29 operations following a near-deadly car accident, she is warning teenagers to focus on the road and not the phone. TODAY’s consumer correspondent Janice Lieberman reports and shows off new technology that helps limit the dangerous habit.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> morning on parenting today, preventing your teen from texting and driving. janice lieberman is here with what some are doing to save lives. good morning.

>> good morning. this is really important information. eight teenage drives are killed each day because they are not focusing on the road. some advocates are sending the message to teens and parents that texting and driving don't mix. just moments before this car accident driver jamie nash was doing what she commonly did while driving. she was texting .

>> i don't know who or what i was texting but we know that was the cause.

>> reporter: although much of the accident is blurry, jamie now recalls what happened a split second later after looking up from her phone.

>> i know i lost control of the vehicle and it flipped a couple of times and landed against a small tree. i was pinned inside.

>> reporter: over the course of 17 months, jamie sustained 29 operations at parkland hospital in dallas, texas, and continues to recover from burns that covered 80% of her body.

>> reporter: i was burned everywhere, pretty much. third and fourth degree.

>> reporter: learning a very hard lesson. jamie 's mission is to warn teens not to make the same mistake.

>> this is a reminder on your thumb that says "text later." if you're distracted it will happen. it's not worth your life or somebody else's.

>> reporter: like jamie other advocates like michelin tires are trying to drive the message home.

>> this is a way to reach out to young drivers and teach them about what it means to drive safe and not text and drive.

>> reporter: i attended a street survival program for teens sponsored by michelin at their tire testing track.

>> lol can kill a person. nobody is laughing when you get into a wreck because you were texting while you were driving or you were distracted.

>> reporter: professional test driver and instructor sarah robinson invited three teens to take me along.

>> tell me the truth. do you ever text and drive?

>> sometimes. i try not to as much as possible. but it happens.

>> i try not to. every once in a while it will happen though.

>> reporter: they breezed through the course without distractions.

>> this one's tight, don't you think?

>> reporter: then the students were instructed to text while maneuvering the car.

>> text your mom and tell her you love her.

>> oh!

>> boo.

>> how far are we in the text message ?

>> not at all.

>> what's going on? okay. i think we have a cone with us.

>> reporter: it was an eye-opening experience for the teens.

>> you're not focusing on the road like you should be. if you're looking down and texting .

>> definitely less control of the car, for sure.

>> reporter: a lesson every parent hopes their teen will hear loud and clear.

>> it's the difference between graduating high school and not. it's that dramatic.

>> the cones represent the teen going off the road, hitting a structure or running over a pedestrian. tragically one of the student's friends in the class actually died very soon after that class in a texting accident.

>> what can parents do? it bears repeating what you said earlier. 18 kids a day die.

>> first of all talk to your children and tell them there will be consequences if they have been texting . but there are actual devices and aids that a parent can engage to make sure this doesn't happen to their child.

>> tell us. because there are apps that can work.

>> you program the app and if the car is in motion you cannot receive a text and you cannot receive a phone call . it will say, i am driving. i cannot return your text at this time.

>> does it stop you from texting ?

>> stops you. if a child tries to disable it a parent gets an e-mail saying that. izup is one of the big ones . textblocker and phoneguard. you pay $20 per year and you're done. for hardware under the steering wheel, you can get cell control. $25 hardware fee. $8 a month. it's peace of mind for you, but you have to tell them, i'm not doing it, you don't do it. and you have to not do it.

>> don't set a bad example. janice, thank you. good information this morning. coming up, we're