Young people are the least likely passengers to speak up if their drivers are using a handheld cellphone, according to a new survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
About 90 percent of respondents to the administration's recent survey of more than 6,000 drivers report they consider sending or reading text messages or e-mails as very unsafe. But among passengers 18 to 24, only one-third report they would say something to a driver who was using a handheld phone. About half of drivers 65 and older say they would speak up.
"We're encouraging young people across America to commit to distraction-free driving, spread the word to their family and friends, and speak up if the driver in their car is distracted," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a press statement.
The survey also showed that drivers 18 to 20 are almost three times as likely to report having been reading or sending a text or e-mail just before a crash or near-crash, compared to drivers 25 and older. In addition, drivers younger than 25 are two to three times more likely to drive while sending or reading a text message or e-mail. Reports of texting while driving drop sharply as age increases.
Car insurance companies, consumer safety advocates, lawmakers and government agencies are working to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.