It turns out that the problems is much greater than just teens. Texting while driving – like texting – is cutting across the population, presenting dangers that are well-documented and increasingly ignored. And it’s not only texting – it is the use of phones while driving as well that is causing concerns among safety experts.
New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that high school-aged teens report using their phones or texting while driving substantially less often than adults do. The AAA survey found that adult drivers ages 25-39 were the most likely to admit engaging in these risky behaviors behind the wheel.
Though the practice is hazardous at any age, two out of three drivers reported using a cell phone while driving within the past month. Forty-three percent of adults ages 25-39 reported doing so fairly often or regularly while driving, compared to only 20 percent of teens. Motorists age 60 and up were the least likely to report using a phone.
“Using your phone while driving may seem safe, but it roughly quadruples your risk of being in a crash according to previous research,” said Stephen Rourke, manager of driving school administration for AAA. “None of us is immune from the dangers of distracted driving. The best advice is to hang up and drive.”
More than one-in-four motorists reported sending a text or email while driving within the past month. Adults ages 25-39 reported texting and driving most frequently, while those age 60 and up reported doing it the least.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every ten fatal crashes involves distraction, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year, although experts agree the numbers are likely underestimated.
Previous research shows that hands-free cell phones offer no significant safety benefits over handheld phones – hands-free is not risk-free. Earlier this year, Connecticut by the Numbers reported on a proposal in Connecticut to ban the use of electronic devices in vehicles.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety collected the data as part of the 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index. The data are from a sample of 2,325 licensed drivers, ages 16 and older, who reported driving in the past 30 days.