American adults are just as likely to have texted while driving as teenagers and are significantly more likely than teens to have talked on their cell phones while driving, according to a new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
More than a quarter (27%) of American adults say they have texted while driving, about the same proportion as the number of teens (26%) who say they have texted while driving.
Nearly two-thirds (61%) of adults say they have talked on their cell phones while they were behind the wheel. That is significantly higher than the number of 16 and 17 year olds (43%) who have talked on their cells while driving. In addition, 49% of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages on their cell phone. Overall, 44% of adults say they have been passengers of drivers who used the cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.
Besides driving, 17 percent of adults have been so distracted while talking or texting that they have physically bumped into another person or object. That amounts to 14 percent of all American adults who have been so engaged in talking or texting that they have bumped into something or someone.
"While previous research has shown that one in four teen drivers text at the wheel, this data suggests that adults are now just as likely to engage in this risky behavior" said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist at the Internet & American Life Project and co-author of the report.
"Adults may be the ones sounding the alarm on the dangers of distracted driving, but they don't always set the best example themselves."
Other findings from the report include:
*82 percent of American adults now own cell phones and 58 percent send or receive text messages.
*51 percent of men who use text messaging say they have sent or read messages while driving compared to 42 percent of women who have done the same.
*While 59% of texting Millennials (ages 18-33) say they have sent or read messages at the wheel, 50% of text-using Gen Xers (ages 34-45) and 29% of texting Baby Boomers (ages 46-64) report the same.
"It is just as hard for adults as it is for teenagers to resist chatting with friends and sending off that quick text even in the midst of heavy traffic," said Lee Rainie, Director of the Internet & American Life Project and co-author of the distractions report.
"Constant mobile connectivity to friends, family and colleagues is a hallmark of age and it is hard to resist even in situations where it would seem smart to stay focused on the task at hand."