Though many fess up to having ever texted while driving, men take part more frequently than women.
They say you see the city in a different way when you walk it. It’s true. I began walking to work just over 6 months ago and it added a new perspective to my neighborhood and what I can be present for. But I also started to notice, daily, just how many people were texting and driving (along with shaving and driving, doing makeup and driving…but that’s another post altogether).
I decided, like most people who work here do when they ponder life’s intricacies, to load in a question on the topic. So I’ll just say this: When I answered said question (Be Honest: Have you ever texted while driving?) when I was served it on one of our publisher partner’s sites I answered Yes. Ever is ever. And I’ve probably done it once or twice in my not so best moments to date. It was a bad call. But would I do it again? Nope. Fortunately, nothing bad happened…but I think what made me take the vow (to myself) to keep my phone in the back seat when I do drive is the sheer number of times I’ve witnessed it happen when I’m walking around as a pedestrian. And how scary it is to have almost been run down by said driving texters. It makes me shudder when I witness a driver not looking at the road at all. I don’t think anyone will argue with that. So now when I see it happening, it kind of boils my blood because there is no way you can do the two things at the same time safely. The fatality statistics show just how big of a problem and risk it is. According to the CDC, every day in the U.S. over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.
In late May we asked 4,489 people: Be Honest: Have you ever texted while driving?
Off the bat: I was actually surprised by how many people answered yes: 43% of US adults (over 18) say they have. Bravo for being honest! I guess that moves onto my second point: these are just the people that fessed up. Some may be in denial or don’t want to answer this question/think about it. After all, it’s a little different from some of the other research questions we ask about — grocery shopping, dining habits, online streaming services, etc.–this may be a little touchier of a subject than the norm.
What surprised me more was people who answered Yes are more likely to be parents than those who answered No. I get it, time is limited, I suppose and multi-tasking may be key as a parent. Also, those who answered No are more likely to have grandchildren. Interesting. The older, the wiser, perhaps? Or maybe this age group doesn’t text as much? Just a thought.
In terms of those who said Yes, it was a 50/50 split down the middle in terms of gender. However, those who answered Yes are less likely to live in the US West. East Coasters, beware–driving texters are more prevalent there. And let me just say: texting and driving is not only bad in my personal opinion, it’s against the law to do so in 46 states. Yes. Do you know your own state’s laws regarding this? (That would be a good polling question…)
So, I know I only asked have people “ever” done it. But it only takes one time (I’m sure you haven’t heard that one before) for something bad to happen.
I then decided to also ask 2,081 US Adults in late May about how often, if at all, they text and drive…
- Of the people who text and drive, only 4% of respondents say they do so Very Often. Individuals answering Very often are more likely to be men; more than 2x more than women, actually. Also, the Very Often folk are, here we go again, more likely to be parents.
- 8% of people say they partake in this pastime Somewhat Often
- 25% say they text while driving Very Rarely. But rarely is still doing it at all.
I also thought about checking apps/games while driving. It’s all distracted driving, right? I simultaneously ran the question Do You Ever Check Social Media / Apps While Driving? Which was answered by 4,656 US Adults
- 15% of respondents said they do check out their latest Snapchat and so forth behind the wheel. City Dwellers are more likely to do this than those who reside in a rural area. So, maybe not as prevalent than texting while operating a vehicle, but it’s fair to say texting is more common among US adults than using apps/games are, at least at this point.
- Those who answered Yes are much more likely to be between the ages of 25-29.
When comparing this question with the question: Do you follow the ‘no smartphone before bed’ rule? Those who say they do look at apps/games while driving are 6x more likely to NOT follow this rule. I guess when you’re hooked, you’re hooked.
So, what am I trying to get at here? I guess it’s that this is an issue that, not to sound too pessimistic, only seems to be getting more prevalent. Knowledge of the issue and ways to educate new drivers is paramount. And awareness– that is be aware as a driver/pedestrian/cyclist –that if, say 40 some percent of drivers out there are doing this, only about half of people are paying attention to the choreographed dance that driving should be. Just because a red light is red doesn’t mean everyone will stop at it.
One plug for safety: Next time you’re thinking of grabbing your phone in your car, ask yourself: is this worth it? Can it wait?
I’ll close with one last observation: though the phrase “texting while driving” is the common one used when referring to this trend, shouldn’t it be called “driving while texting”? Think about it.