A new survey conducted for insurance giant State Farm shows that despite academic research clearing establishing that the consequences of texting while driving can be as severe as drunk driving, most teens still don’t see it that way.
In the survey, fewer teens view texting while driving as leading to fatal consequences as compared to drinking while driving. Of 14-17 years-olds who intend to have or already have a driver’s license, the survey found that 36 percent strongly agree that if they regularly text and drive they could be killed one day. In contrast, the majority of teens (55 percent) strongly agree that drinking while driving could be fatal.
Teens also believe that the chances of getting into an accident are still higher when drinking while driving versus texting while driving. In the survey, of these same teens, 63 percent strongly agree they could get into an accident if they text and drive. This compares with 78 percent who strongly agree they could get into an accident if they drink and drive. The survey was conducted in July among 697 U.S. teens 14-17 years of age.
The awareness gap becomes more pronounced among teens who admit to texting while driving versus teens who refrain from the practice. Among teens that have never texted while driving, 73 percent strongly agree they will get into an accident if they text and drive. Yet among teens that admit to texting while driving, only 52 percent strongly agree they will get into an accident as a result of the practice.
In the survey, aspiring and current teen drivers also think their chances of narrowly avoiding an accident are better texting while driving versus drinking while driving. With texting while driving, 55 percent of these teens agree they will have some situations when they almost get into an accident but will recover just in time. This compares to 36 percent of these teens who agree they can recover just in time in situations where they are drinking and driving.
The National Safety Council estimates that 200,000 crashes each year are caused by drivers who are texting. Of course, in Colorado it is illegal for drivers to send text messages, e-mail or tweet while driving. The law went into effect earlier this year, and also bars those under 18 from talking on their cell phones while driving. Violators risk a $50 fine and repeat offenders could get a $100 ticket. See Tickets for Texting.
The State Farm survey results also emphasized that parental involvement banning texting while driving is not pursued as often as discussions about drinking and driving. Of teens who talk often with their parents about driving, 82 percent strongly agree that if they regularly drink and drive they will get into an accident. That number falls to 72 percent among teens who rarely or never talk to their parents about driving. A similar pattern was evident around texting while driving but in these cases teens view the consequences of texting as less severe. In the survey, 67 percent of teens who often talk to their parents about driving strongly agree that if they regularly text and drive someday they will get into an accident. This compared with 56 percent of teens who rarely or never talk to their parents about driving.