Nearly everyone agrees that texting and driving is dangerous. (Reuters)
Nearly everyone agrees that texting and driving is dangerous. Most people do it anyway.
In a new survey, 98 per cent of motorists who own cellphones and text regularly said they were aware of the dangers, yet three-quarters of them admitted to texting while driving, despite laws against it in some states.
Two-thirds said they have read text messages while stopped at a red light or stop sign, while more than a quarter said they have sent texts while driving.
More than a quarter of the texting drivers believed they "can easily do several things at once, even while driving."
The telephone survey of 1,004 US adults was released today by AT&T Inc as part of an anti-texting-and-driving campaign.
AT&T designed the survey with David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and a professor at the University of Connecticut's School of Medicine.
The survey came as AT&T expanded availability of a free app that silences text message alerts and activates automatically when a person is moving 24 kilometres per hour or faster.
The DriveMode app is coming to iPhones after being previously available on Android and BlackBerry phones for AT&T users only. The iPhone version will be available to customers of competing carriers as well, but some functions will work only on AT&T devices.
The study in May was of cellphone owners ages 16 to 65 who drive almost every day and text at least once a day. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Researchers conducted surveys with people on their cellphones, and it's possible those who would have picked up on a landline might have different attitudes.
Greenfield said the survey is the latest to show a discrepancy between people's attitudes and behaviors.
It found a broad range of reasons why drivers text. Forty-three per cent of the texting drivers said they want to "stay connected" to friends, family and work. Nearly a third did it out of habit.
Among other reasons for texting and driving:
Twenty-eight per cent said they are worried about missing out of something important if they don't check their phones right away.
More than a quarter believes that their driving performance is not affected by texting, and just as many people said they believe that others expect them to respond to texts "right away."
Just 6 per cent answered that they are "addicted to texting," although 14 per cent admitted that they are "anxious" if they don't respond to a text right away, and 17 percent feel "a sense of satisfaction" when they can read or respond to a text message.