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Researchers: Adults, Not Teens, More Likely to Text-and-Drive

As Florida lawmakers begin the push for tougher texting-while-driving laws, an interesting piece of information was revealed in a recent study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
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We already knew Americans far too frequently engage in the dangerous activity of texting behind the wheel. However, we tend to mostly blame teens and young drivers. While it’s true such actions are a problem among this group, it turns out they aren’t the biggest offenders. It’s adults who should know better.

The foundation surveyed thousands of drivers over the age of 16 who had driven at least once in the last month. Although researchers focused on a gamut of traffic safety behaviors, one of those included texting while driving.

What they discovered was that in almost every category pertaining to cell phone use behind the wheel – typing or sending a text or email, using the internet, reading a text message or talking on a cell phone (including hands-free) – drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 were only half as likely to engage in these risky behaviors as those between the ages of 25 and 39.

Researchers have speculated it’s possible older adults were simply more honest about their actions in the self-reported survey than younger drivers. However, there is no indication teens were less honest in other portions of the study, which was anonymous.

Whatever the reason, the information gleaned is still quite sobering.

For example, when asked how many had typed a text message or email while driving, 27 percent of teens between the ages of 16 and 18 answered affirmatively. That compares to 41 percent in the 19-24 cohort, 46 percent in the 25-29 age group, 28 percent in the 40-59 age group and a little less than 5 percent in the over 75 subset.

Figures were higher for those who said they had read a text message or email while driving – 35 percent of those 16 to 18, half of those 19 to 24, more than half of those 25 to 39. Of those ages 40 to 59, 40 percent said they had, as did 13 percent of those between the ages of 60 and 74. Those who were older answered yes to this question 6 percent of the time.

By far the greatest distraction was talking on one’s cell phone, an activity engaged in by 56 percent of those 16 to 18, 72 percent of those 19 to 24, 79 percent of those 25 to 39, 74 percent of those 40 to 59, 59 percent of those 60 to 74 and 39 percent of those over 75.

These figures counter the stereotype of the irresponsible teenager being reckless on their phone and posing danger to the drivers around them. Certainly, there are those cases.

However, our Fort Myers auto injury attorneys recognize this data reveals some important red flags to which we must pay attention. There is no such thing as a safe way to use one’s phone behind the wheel – no matter how old you are.

This is why our veteran attorneys support legislation that would make texting-while-driving a primary offense in Florida. Currently, it is a secondary offense, meaning police can only cite drivers if they’ve committed some other traffic violation in addition to texting.

Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.

Additional Resources:
Auto Incorrect: Adults, Not Teens, Most Guilty Of Texting And Driving, Feb. 12, 2015, By Eric Markowitz, Vocative.com
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Florida Report: DUI Ignition Interlock Program Expansion Recommended, Feb. 12, 2015, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog