Adults Text While Driving Just as Much as Teenagers

Texting. (Image credit: stockxpert)

A new study reveals that adults text as often while driving as teenagers and are actually more likely than teens to talk on the phone when behind the wheel.

The new survey from the Pew Research Center reported that more than one in four American adults said they have texted while driving — the same as driving-age teenagers.

So-called distracted driving – using a cell phone instead of focusing on the road – has been strongly implicated in vehicular accidents. Around a dozen states have outlawed cell phones on the road unless they are operated in a hands-free manner via earpieces or Bluetooth-enabled systems, for example.

“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 in a statement. Madden is a senior research specialist at the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and co-author of the report.

In addition, just over six in ten adults copped to having chatted on their phones while driving compared to 43 percent of new drivers aged 16 and 17 years old.

The survey addressed the increased risks of distracted driving related to cell phone use by asking a question about adults physically bumping into someone else or an object while gabbing away on a phone. Some 17 percent admitted or remembered having made just such an '"oops."

Also of note, 44 percent of adults said they have been passengers of cell phone-toting drivers who used the device in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

That figure jibes with the 49 percent of adults who said they have been in a car when the driver was texting. Similarly, half of all teens ages 12 to 17 said they had been passengers when the driver was sending or reading text messages.

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

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Adam Hadhazy
Adam Hadhazy is a contributing writer for Live Science and He often writes about physics, psychology, animal behavior and story topics in general that explore the blurring line between today's science fiction and tomorrow's science fact. Adam has a Master of Arts degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College. When not squeezing in reruns of Star Trek, Adam likes hurling a Frisbee or dining on spicy food. You can check out more of his work at