If you drive, you’ve probably seen it. A car swerves past you in a near-miss. To your dismay the motorist’s head is tilted down because, you guessed it, the person is texting and driving. LOL? Not really, according to a study released Thursday.
Texting while driving is up 50% over the previous year, and 20% of motorists admit they fiddle with their phones while behind the wheel, according to a study released Thursday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and reported by Time Magazine.
Texting while driving may be a relatively new occurrence, but it has legs, er, wheels, says Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association said in Time. "It is clear that educational messages alone aren't going to change their behavior. Rather, good laws with strong enforcement are what is needed. Many drivers won't stop texting until they fear getting a ticket. The increase shows what an uphill challenge distracted driving remains, he was quoted as saying.
Laws against texting while driving are on the books in 35 states, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Still the practice is on the increase. Overall, 18% said they’ve texted while driving, according to the NHTSA study, which was conducted via telephone survey on more than 6,000 motorists.
If you’re in your 20's, your fingers do the talking a little more than most. Half of drivers aged 21 to 24 say they text and drive, the study said. Other stats: Drivers speaking into headsets up 9%; Hollering into a hand-held phone flat at 5%.
The NHTSA found that enforcement and publicity have been effective in reducing the number of drivers who use handheld devices and texting. Initiatives in Syracuse, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut, have seen texting while driving instances drop significantly, according to the report.