Dangerous Increase in Number of Texting While Driving By Young Drivers
Despite all the media attention and recent legislation regarding the subject, the number of people who text and drive continues to rise. The problem is especially prevalent in younger drivers.
Among American drivers aged 21 to 24, nearly half admit to having sent a text message or e-mail while driving. Another danger lies in the fact that when asked whether they found texting while driving dangerous, many responded that it was only dangerous when done by other drivers.
The data was taken from a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which hopes to highlight some of the problems faced by agencies trying to discourage the use of electronics while driving. In 2010, the use of such devices increased by 50 percent from the 2009 figures, which is the equivalent of 1 percent of drivers using their phones or other handheld devices while driving at any point in time over the past year. The number of deaths in the U.S. that were caused by distracted drivers in 2010 is enormous. An astonishing 3,092 lives were taken as the result of car accidents in which drivers were doing other things, including eating and using their phone. The process for calculating distraction-related driving deaths has changed recently, so the numbers cannot be accurately compared to surveys taken in previous years. Despite that, many states have passed measures to prevent texting and driving, with Pennsylvania bringing up the most recent addition to that list.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took to the streets to collect data for the survey, with some officials even sitting in intersections to count those drivers engaging in dangerous distracting tasks. These were not limited to the use of electronic devices and included other activities. Some other surprising revelations came to light during the survey of American drivers. Around 6,000 people were questioned, and with electronics becoming much more commonplace, drivers were divided over their thoughts on the use of electronics while driving. Around one-fifth admitted to texting or e-mailing while behind the wheel, which increased to half of those between 21 and 24 years of age. Many drivers felt that talking on the phone had no effect on their driving, but only 25 percent felt the same way about texting and e-mailing. When it came to being the passenger of someone who was texting or e-mailing, however, the vasy majority stated that they felt unsafe.
Asked about their feelings on bans against texting and driving, almost all those surveyed were supportive of such measures. Far fewer support bans on phone calls and driving, but many agreed that fines for violating bans should start at $100. Fines between $200 and $500 were received well by a quarter of those surveyed.
Of those surveyed, the majority admitted to answering phone calls while driving rather than making calls, and more also simply read text messages or e-mails instead of sending them. Nonetheless, with all the coverage that texting and driving is getting, it seems that the trend should be reversing itself instead of increasing and as the texting bans were only recently implemented, it remains to be seen what direction the controversial issue will take.
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