Some example we adults are setting for teenage drivers. When it comes to the dangerous practice of texting behind the wheel, one survey found that it's the drivers who should know better who are the most guilty.
AT&T, the second biggest wireless provider in the nation, took a poll of commuters and found that they admit to texting more often than do teenagers, 49 percent compared with 41 percent of 1,200 teens surveyed in May 2012. The commuter poll was taken at the end of 2012.
Although the teen data is nearly a year old, a spokeswoman for the polling company, Research Now, said that more recent internal research showed that trends remain similar.
Aware that It's Dangerous
Three years ago, 60 percent of drivers said they never texted while driving, AT&T and Research Now said, showing that the problem is getting worse. All but 2 percent of today's drivers said they were fully aware that the habit is dangerous. The survey findings were released for National Distracted Driving Awareness month (April) which begins Monday.
The phenomenon of texting and driving has fast become the object of intense study and concern as our always-reachable mindset is taken to extremes. Earlier this month we reported that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control compared the responses of American and European drivers to a survey and found that almost a third of U.S. respondents 'fessed up to texting, the highest of any other surveyed nation except Portugal.
The CDC's report also found that drivers from ages 18 to 34 were more likely to text and drive than drivers 45 to 64.
Talking on the phone without a hands-free set-up is banned in 10 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and texting is banned in 39 states and D.C. Other states impose limits only on new drivers and school bus drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Highway Loss Data Institute.
But the jury's still out on whether the bans are having an effect.
Fending Off Regulation
AT&T has taken a leadership position in fighting texting while driving, with an awareness video and a nationwide It Can Wait campaign, as well as a free Drive Mode app that automatically replies to texts, when enabled, to inform the sender that the recipient is not reachable at the moment because he/she is behind the wheel.
"They want to protect users," says wireless industry analyst Jeff Kagan. "After all they and their family are users as well. They [also] want to help control the direction this is going so the government doesn't have to step in, as it has in many communities around the country."