The latest data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that despite a range of criticisms and legal bans, texting while driving continues to increase, particularly among young drivers.
The national survey, conducted in 2010, showed that at any given moment, almost one in every 100 drivers was either texting, e-mailing, surfing the Web, or engaging in some other activity with a hand-held device. This figure alone suggests a 50 percent surge over the previous year. When asked individually about these distracting behaviors, two out of 10 respondents admitted to sending texts or e-mails while driving. But among drivers between 21-24 years of age, that number increased to 50 percent.
What is most interesting about this study is that while a majority of drivers allege that making a cell phone call or texting while driving made no difference in their driving abilities, almost 90 percent claim they feel unsafe as a passenger if the driver is using their cell phone. Most of the drivers polled even said they supported harsh fines as a way to enforce the new bans.
Pennsylvania lawmakers recently signed a bill that will prohibit drivers from sending or reading text messages while driving. The bill, effective in March 2012, will make texting while driving a primary offense with each violation costing drivers $50. Pennsylvania is the 35th state to enact legislation prohibiting texting while driving.