A new survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project suggests that 27 percent of American adults have texted while driving, while a full 61 percent report having used a cell phone while behind the wheel. Of the American teens surveyed, some 26 percent texted while driving, while 43 percent reported making calls while behind the wheel. Several states have banned the use of cell phones while driving, after several studies demonstrated the inherent distractions in doing so.
A new survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet &
American Life Project suggests that, when it comes to cell phones and driving,
most Americans are engaging in some decidedly risky behavior.
to the study
, around 27 percent of American adults reported texting while
driving, versus 26 percent of driving-age teenagers. Those numbers might
represent a statistical dead heat, but the total number of surveyed adults who
have used a cell phone while behind the wheel-61 percent-greatly outpaced the
43 percent of all American teens who did so.
If the data is isolated to those adults who actually own
cell phones, as opposed to the total survey sample, the numbers become even
starker: some 75 percent of those report having talked on a cell phone while
driving, as opposed to 52 percent of cell phone-owning teens between the ages
of 16-17. Of adults who regularly send text messages, some 47 percent report
having sent or read a text message while driving-versus 34 percent of teens who
The study's sample pool totaled 2,252 adults, with 1,917
being cell phone owners and 1,189 using text messaging. The data from teenagers
came from a separate study, conducted by Princeton Survey Research
International, which sampled 800 individuals between the ages of 12-17 along
with a parent or guardian.
Perhaps more disconcerting, 17 percent of "cell-toting
adults say they have been so distracted while talking or texting that they have
bumped into another person or object," according to the report's overview.
"That amounts to 14 [percent] of all American adults who have been so engrossed
in talking, texting or otherwise using their cell phones that they bumped into
something or someone."
On top of that, "49 percent of adults say they have been
passengers in car when the driver was sending or reading text messages on their
cell phone," and 44 percent said they had been passengers "of drivers who used
the cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger."
Some seven states and the District of Columbia have banned
handheld cell-phone use while driving; another 28 have banned cell use by
"novice drivers," 28 forbid texting while driving, and 18 have bans on cell use
by bus drivers. The Pew report notes that "The Distracted Driving Prevention
Act, introduced last fall by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), would provide
incentive grants to states that ban texting and handheld cell phone use for all
drivers and would require a complete ban on cell phone use by drivers under the
age of 18."
A number of studies over the years have either suggested the
dangers of phoning while driving, or have outright advocated banning the
practice. In 2009, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) issued a
study suggesting that texting-while-driving be stopped, in order to prevent
unnecessary distraction and crashes. The study suggested that text messaging on
a cell phone while driving carried a risk 20 times greater than driving while
not using a phone.
"Given the recent catastrophic crash events and disturbing
trends, there is an alarming amount of misinformation and confusion regarding
cell phone and texting use while behind the wheel of a vehicle," VTTI
Director Tom Dingus said in a July 2009 statement
The Pew report also notes that 744 of the subject interviews
were conducted on cell phones. Hopefully none of them were driving at the