A new survey commissioned by AT&T* as part of the "It Can Wait" campaign indicates that while 97 percent of teens know texting while driving is dangerous, 43 percent of them admit to sending a text while driving – and 75 percent say the practice is common among their friends.
The survey found that teenagers feel pressure to quickly respond to text messages – and adults are also setting a poor example by texting while driving themselves.
With prom, graduation and summer nearing, we head into the "100 deadliest days" for teen drivers on the road – the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.(1) Texting also ranks as the No. 1 mode of communication among teens.(2) On average, teens text five times more a day than a typical adult.(3) When this habit hits the road, drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be in an accident or near-accident.(4)
Highlights of the AT&T Teen Driver Survey:
Peer Pressure: Almost all teens (89 percent) expect a reply to a text or email within five minutes or less.
Knowledge but Little Action: 75 percent of teens say texting while driving is very dangerous – but 43 percent admit to doing so.
"Gateway" Dangers: 70 percent of teens believe texting while stopped at a red light is dangerous.
Still, 60 percent of teens admit to texting at a red light and 73 percent admit to glancing at their phone at a red light.
61 percent of teens say they glance at their phone while driving, and 61 percent have seen their friends read or send an email, or text, while driving.
Learning by Example: According to 77 percent of teens, adults tell kids not to text while driving – yet adults do it themselves "all the time."
41 percent of teens report seeing their parents read or send an email, or text, while driving.
Still, 89 percent of teenagers say their own parents are good role models in terms of not texting while driving.
And, 62 percent of teens feel that getting reminders from their own parents not to text and drive would be effective in getting them or their friends to stop texting and driving.
Minority Disparities: Hispanic teens (54 percent) are more likely to admit to the practice of texting while driving than Caucasian (41 percent) and African-American (42 percent) teens.
Hispanic teens (52 percent) also are more likely to report seeing their parents text while driving, compared to 38 percent of Caucasian teens and 44 percent of African-American teens who reported seeing their parents text while driving.
What Helps Lessen the Urge: 89 percent of teens said a phone app to prevent texting & driving – like AT&T DriveMode™ – would be an effective way to get them or their friends to stop texting and driving. AT&T DriveMode™ provides a customizable auto-reply message notifying friends that the user is driving and will respond when it is safe.
"Our survey also evaluated teen opinions of drinking and driving compared to texting while driving," said AT&T Director of Consumer Safety & Education, Andrea Brands. "While we're happy to report that 60 percent of them understand texting while driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving, there's still work to be done to make this behavior just as socially unacceptable.
"These findings help foster even more dialogue on the issue with teens and parents – and we hope the tools we offer like our mobile application, documentary and educational toolkit help in driving home the message that absolutely no text is worth risking a life," Brands said.
(1) AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
(2) The Pew Internet & American Life Project
(3) Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Research: www.vtti.vt.edu
(4) Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Research: www.vtti.vt.edu