Despite dangers U.S. teens text and drive: poll

Mon May 14, 2012 1:08am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Virtually all teenagers agree that texting while driving is dangerous but nearly half admit they have done it anyway, according to a new nationwide survey released on Monday.

Three-quarters of teenagers also said in an online poll that texting while driving was common among their friends, and reported that their parents text at nearly the same rate as they do while driving.

The poll, conducted by an independent research firm for AT&T, was the second survey in a week to show teens agree that text messaging while driving was dangerous, even as many admit to doing it.

Consumer Reports said last week its survey showed that while eight in 10 said they knew the risks, some 29 percent of drivers aged 16 to 21 had text messaged while driving in the past month.

With texting as teens' main mode of communication, at an average rate of more than 3,400 per month according to Nielsen research, the implications are alarming, said Andrea Brands, AT&T's director of consumer safety and education.

"We know that underreporting is always an issue, and even so we're seeing staggeringly high numbers of teens who admit to texting and driving," Brands said.

Some 97 percent of the 1,200 teens surveyed said texting while driving was dangerous, with about two-thirds saying it was very dangerous. Yet 43 percent said they had done so in the past three months.

Compounding the issue was the finding of what teens thought constituted texting while driving.   Continued...

A driver checks his phone while sitting in his car in New York City, December 10, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi