Survey: Teens’ Attitudes on Texting While Driving Unchanged

Most teenage drivers have texted behind the wheel, and they see it as a habit less dangerous than drunk driving, according to a recent survey of 652 drivers conducted for State Farm by Harris Interactive.

The survey results, which showed that 57 percent of licensed teen respondents admitted to texting while driving, reinforces common ideas of teenagers being more reckless drivers than their older counterparts. Since reports and insurance claims statistics consistently link teenagers to higher accident rates, car insurance for teens is almost always pricier across all insurers compared with other age groups.

Numbers ‘virtually unchanged’ between 2010 and 2012

The survey was a follow-up to a 2010 survey that posed similar questions to teens, some with new licenses or learner’s permits. The latest survey found that young drivers’ attitudes toward texting behind the wheel have remained largely unaffected “despite the widespread attention surrounding the dangers of this risky practice.”

“The numbers are virtually unchanged” between 2010 and 2012, insurance provider State Farm said in a statement.

The 2012 survey showed that more teens believe drinking while driving will lead to a fatal crash than texting behind the wheel. Thirty-five percent of respondents strongly agreed that they would be killed one day if they regularly texted behind the wheel, compared with 57 percent who believed the same about drunk driving.

Results from the 2010 survey were practically the same: 36 percent against 55 percent.

The latest survey found that more young motorists also believe nonfatal accidents are more likely to occur when drinking than texting behind the wheel, with 63 percent strongly agreeing that they would be in an accident if they regularly text and drive compared with 83 percent strongly agreeing that regularly drinking and driving would lead to an accident.

Again, the latest findings were largely unchanged from the survey in 2010, when 63 percent of respondents replied that they would be in a collision due to texting regularly compared with 78 percent of respondents who replied that drunk driving would lead to a crash.

Government officials, however, have cited statistics showing that using a cell phone while driving could be just as bad as drinking and driving, producing the same delay in reaction time for motorists.

2012 Survey Highlights Parental Role

The latest survey also found a correlation between more parental interaction and safer vehicle habits.

Eighty-two percent of young motorists who never texted while driving reported talking to their parents at least sometimes about driving. On the other hand, only 67 percent of teens who admitted to texting while driving responded that they have similar talks with their parents.

Surveyors also identified a steep decline in communication between parents and teens about driving after a teen gets a driver’s license “despite the fact that the first year after receiving a license brings the highest lifetime crash risk.”

According to the results, 46 percent of teens who have a learner’s permit reported that they talk very often with their parents about driving, compared with 22 percent of already-licensed teens who said the same.

“The conversation should not end when teens get their license,” State Farm’s director of technology research, Chris Mullen, said in a statement. “Through this survey and other teen driver research, we know that ongoing parental involvement in the learning process is key to keeping teen drivers safe behind the wheel.”

The 2012 survey was conducted in February by telephone among 652 14- to 17-year-olds who had a driver’s license or permit or were planning on getting one.


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About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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