Monday, December 12, 2011

Drivers Still Texting – But It’s Getting Better

Nearly 2 out of every 10 drivers and half of drivers ages 21 to 24 say they are texting behind the wheel, according to a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey. Among other survey findings:
  • When asked how they think their driving is different when talking on the phone or sending messages, about half of drivers said talking on a handheld device and one-quarter said texting or sending messages makes no difference in their driving performance.
  • Men and women are equally likely to make or accept phone calls, read incoming email or text messages and send messages while driving.
  • Drivers younger than 25 are two to three times more likely than older drivers to read or send text messages or emails.
  • There were very few situations when drivers would never talk on the phone or never send texts or emails while driving. Bad weather was the No. 1 reason, and a quarter said bumper-to-bumper or fast-moving traffic would influence their decision not to place calls or send messages,
  • 66% of drivers said their most common action when receiving calls while driving is to answer and keep driving.
  • Drivers under 25 are two to four times more likely than older drivers to avoid talking while driving when they see a police officer.
  • A higher share of women than men said they would never send texts while driving, 12% compared to 5%.
  • About 9 in 10 drivers said that when they are passengers they would consider a driver who was sending or reading a text message or email as very unsafe. Even among the youngest drivers, 62% said they would feel that way.
  • 40% of drivers said that, when they are passengers, they are very likely to say something if their driver is talking on a handheld cell phones, and three-quarters said they would say something if their driver was texting or sending. Women and older drivers were more likely to speak up; men and younger drivers are less likely.
  • By large majorities, drivers support bans on handheld cell phone use and texting while driving. A majority also approve of fines of $100 or higher for handheld cell phone use and for texting. Almost a quarter support fines in the $200 to $499 range.