By David Strayer
A disturbing trend is emerging with regard to texting while driving.
Common knowledge is that teens are often guilty of texting while driving, with 34% of 16 and 17 year-olds indicating that they had sent text messages while driving. But, according to a recent poll from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 47% of adults admit that they sent texts while driving! So texting isn't just something that young drivers do.
This is alarming, because the crash risk associated with texting while driving is much higher than driving while drunk. For example, in our study, the odds of getting into a crash when the driver was texting was eight times higher than when they were driving without distraction. By contrast, driving when intoxicated at a .08 blood alcohol level (the legal limit) is associated with a crash risk four timers higher than baseline.
So, if you see someone swerving down the road, they may be drunk, but it is becoming much more likely that they are "intoxicated" from their cell phone while talking or texting.
Some other statistics from the Pew report:
- 75% of drivers who own a cell phone report using it while driving. This compares with a rate of 52% for teen drivers (ages 16-17).
- Amazingly, over 40% of drivers report that they have been passengers in a vehicle where the driver's use of a cell phone put them or others in danger.
- And would you believe that 17% of adults who own a cell phone have bumped into a person or object because they were distracted.
Makes you wonder what people are thinking...