Survey: Adults text more while driving

Published 12:02 am Friday, March 29, 2013

If you follow the stereotype about foolhardy teen drivers fiddling with their smartphone will driving, you might want to look in the mirror first.

In a new survey by AT&T, almost half of adults admitted to texting while driving, compared to a slightly smaller number of teens who confessed to the same thing. About 49 percent of adults said they’ve sent a text while behind the wheel, according to a new survey conducted for the mobile company, compared with 43 percent of teens in a survey from last April.

And here’s the thing – they all know it’s wrong.

A full 98 percent of respondents said they’re aware that texting and driving isn’t safe, but it’s not those on the road, said Star-News Facebook friend Debbie Mayhall. Her husband is an over-the-road truck driver, and they’ve witnessed the practice firsthand.

“I ride with him everywhere, and all we see is adults texting/watching videos while driving,” she said. “In the past seven months, I personally, have only seen two or three teens texting compared to almost every adult. The only exception to the adults is the elderly. This is sad! And adults are supposed to be an example.”

The report is part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, which began in 2009 and is designed to discourage texting while driving. The campaign was ramped up last year with a series of somber TV ads featuring people who were injured, or the families of drivers who were killed, in car accidents in which a driver was using a phone.

“Through the It Can Wait movement, AT&T is collaborating with employers, nonprofits, law enforcement, educators, legislators, professional associations and government agencies nationwide,” said Cathy Coughlin, AT&T’s global marketing officer, in a written statement. “I’m confident, together we can save lives by encouraging millions more to make the personal commitment never to text and drive.”

Despite the broad awareness about the dangers of texting behind the wheel, the survey suggests that the problem is getting worse. Three years ago, 6-out-of-every-10 respondents said that they never texted while driving. And 40 percent of the people who admit to texting in the survey say it’s a habit, not just an occasional slip-up.

Drivers who are texting are 23 times more likely to get into an accident than other drivers, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

The report comes as National Distracted Driving Month is set to begin on Monday. AT&T is urging employers to start programs encouraging workers to take no-texting pledges.

The recent survey was of 1,011 adult drivers in the U.S. who own cell phones. The teen survey was conducted last April with 1,200 drivers between 15 and 19 years old.