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Much has been written about the dangers of texting while driving, but until recently, it was unclear just how many drivers had actually been hurt from doing so. Now, we have an answer and the number is shocking.

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, there were 16,000 deaths on the road between 2001 and 2007 that were a direct result of drivers texting behind the wheel.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of North Texas, found that the number of fatal automobile accidents caused by cell phone use increased by 28% just between 2005 and 2008. By comparison, the number of distracted driving accidents had actually been on the decline in the six years prior to that.

"The increases in distracted driving seem to be largely driven by increased use of cell phones to text," Fernando Wilson, the lead researcher on the study and a professor at the University of North Texas, told HealthDay News. “Overall use of cell phones have been pretty steady, but texting volumes have increased dramatically in the last few years.”

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As daunting as these numbers are, one can only wonder how many accidents have been caused in the years since 2007, as texting has arguably only become more popular. Studies have shown that the average teen now sends out at least 50 texts a day. Will they really send any less once they begin to drive?

Check out this MainStreet article on a new cell phone technology that actually makes it impossible to text and drive, whether you want to or not.

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