Adults worse than teens for phoning while driving

Posted by Emma Woollacott

It seems teens are more responsible than adults when it comes to driver distraction: they're less likely to have used a cellphone at the wheel.

Over a quarter of adults say they have sent or read text messages while driving, and 61 percent have talked on a cellphone. While the figure for text-driving is the same for teens, they're substantially less likely to have talked on the phone than adults, with just 43 percent admitting to it.

Almost half of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver used the cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

"While previous research has shown that one in four teen drivers text at the wheel, this data suggests that adults are now just as likely to engage in this risky behavior," said Mary Madden, senior research specialist at the Internet & American Life Project and co-author of the report.

"Adults may be the ones sounding the alarm on the dangers of distracted driving, but they don’t always set the best example themselves."

What makes it even more worrying is that many of these adults can barely use a phone and walk at the same time. One in six say they have been so distracted while talking or texting that they have physically bumped into another person or an object.

“It is just as hard for adults as it is for teenagers to resist chatting with friends and sending off that quick text even in the midst of heavy traffic,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Internet & American Life Project and co-author of the report.

"Constant mobile connectivity to friends, family and colleagues is a hallmark of age and it is hard to resist even in situations where it would seem smart to stay focused on the task at hand."