Survey: Adults Text More Than Teens While Driving

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May 23, 2009, Atlanta, Georgia

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(CNN) — If you’re holding onto the stereotype about foolhardy teens fiddling with their smartphones while driving, you might want to look at yourself 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 fessed up to the same thing. About 49% of adults say they’ve sent a text while behind the wheel, according to a new survey conducted for the mobile company, compared with 43% of teens in a survey from last April.

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

A full 98% of respondents said they’re aware that texting and driving isn’t safe.

The report is part of AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign, designed to discourage texting while driving. Started in 2009, 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. Six out of every 10 respondents said that, three years ago, they never texted while driving. And 40% 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.

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