Although common wisdom blames teens for being the ones most likely to use their cell phones while driving, motorists in their 20s and 30s are the worst offenders, according to new research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Among 16- to 18-year-olds, 58 percent reported using their phones while driving, and 20 percent reported doing so fairly often. Among 25- to 39-year-olds, on the other hand, 82 percent reported using their phones while driving, and 43 percent reported doing so fairly often.
Overall 26 percent of motorists reported sending a text or email while driving within the past month. Adults ages 25-39 reported texting and driving most frequently, with 45 percent saying they did so in the last month, compared to 31 percent of 16- to 18-year-olds.
Drivers age 60 and older reported using their phones while driving the least, with just 7 percent of those 60 to 74 saying they sent a text or email while driving in the last month, and just 1 percent of those age 75 and older doing so.
Most people think texting and driving is dangerous -- when other people do it. About 89 percent of motorists say they think other people talking on their cell phones while driving is a serious threat to their personal safety and 96 percent believe that others texting or emailing behind the wheel is a serious threat.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one out of every 10 fatal crashes involves distraction, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year, although experts agree the numbers are likely underestimated, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety noted. Previous research shows that hands-free cell phones offer no significant safety benefits over handheld phones.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety collected the data as part of the 2013 Traffic Safety Culture Index. The data are from a sample of 2,325 licensed drivers, ages 16 and older, who reported driving in the past 30 days.