Almost Half Of Teens Are Still Texting And Driving

    May 14, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

While only a handful of states in the U.S. have an outright ban on texting while driving, it’s widely accepted that the practice is dangerous and can lead to distracted driving. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone these days who doesn’t at least acknowledge the fact that roads would be safer if people could just put away their cellphones. A recent survey of teenagers found that nearly all of them (97%) admit that the activity is dangerous. And though texting while driving is certainly not an age-specific offense, teen drivers are usually the main focus of anti-distracted driving campaigns.

Here’s the thing: just like plenty of other teenage behaviors, danger does not mean abstinence. Although 97% said texting while driving was bad, 43% admitted to doing it.

Not only that, but 75% said that the practice was “common among their friends.”

The survey, commissioned by AT&T, suggest a few reasons for this these statistics. First, 89% of respondents said that they personally expect a response to their texts within five minutes. In a culture where getting ignored via text is an ultimate diss, peer pressure could make teens feel the need to multitask while driving. Another reason is the lack of proper role models when is comes to the practice. 77% of teens said that although adults in their lives warn them of the dangers, the adults “do it themselves all the time.”

Of course, there’s also the motivation of “I’m a teenager and I want to do this so yeah, I’m going to do it.”

According to the survey, a large percentage of teens even equated the dangers of texting and driving to those of drinking and driving:

“Our survey also evaluated teen opinions of drinking and driving compared to texting while driving,” said AT&T Director of Consumer Safety & Education, Andrea Brands. “While we’re happy to report that 60 percent of them understand texting while driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving, there’s still work to be done to make this behavior just as socially unacceptable.”

AT&T conducted this survey as part of their “It Can Wait” campaign, which is trying to get the message about texting and driving to the masses. On the site, you can find educational materials about the topic as well as take a “pledge” promising not to text and drive.

While knowledge is power, some federal agencies are taking a more forceful and direct approach to the problem. Both the NTSB and the Department of Transportation Secretary have come out in support of nationwide cellphone bans, which would cover everything from talking, texting, and Facebooking while driving.

  • http://www.OTTERapp.com Erik Wood

    I think we live in a culture where business people need to ‘hit the ball over the net’. Teens consider it rude not to reply immediately to texts. Home schedules would grind to a halt without immediate communication. We are conditioned to pursue this level of efficiency but we are all supposed cease this behavior once we sit in our respective 5,000 pound pieces of steel and glass. Creating a sustainably safer driver may start with public awareness via legislation but legislation alone cannot win this battle.

    I read that more than 3/4 of teens text daily – many text more 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors. Tweens (ages 9 -12) send texts to each other from their bikes. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and I think we need to do more than legislate.

    I decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app
    do one thing well… be great.