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Young drivers still texting despite thinking it should be illegal

In 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed and another 391,000 were injured in traffic crashes that involved distracted driving. Teens were the age group reported as most likely to have been distracted at the time of the fatal accidents.

Yet according to a new study by Progressive Insurance, over 60 percent of people between 18 and 34 feel confident in their ability to drive safely while texting. That's compared to just a third of drivers overall.

The survey also found that over 65 of all drivers believe that distracted driving is the most prevalent cause of traffic accidents. 62 percent admitted feeling concerned when observing another driver texting Over 90 percent think distracted driving should be illegal.

Why do people -- especially young people -- think that they can safely drive while distracted but believe others cannot? It's an interesting question, especially because people are apparently getting the message about how dangerous it is to text, use a cellphone or perform other activities behind the wheel.

"We hope this study starts conversations around distracted driving and how to reduce it," said a spokesperson for Progressive's Usage Based Insurance unit.

To begin that conversation, let's look at some of the potentially distracting activities and the percentage of drivers who thought the activities were safe to do while driving:

  • Listening to music - 43 percent
  • Using a map app while at a stoplight -- 37 percent
  • Using a map app while driving - 35 percent
  • Using an analog map - 30 percent
  • Making a phone call - 25 percent
  • Looking at a non-map app while at a stoplight - 22 percent
  • Looking at a non-map app while stopped in traffic - 21 percent
  • Using a virtual assistant to search for a phone contact - 19 percent

The survey involved over 1,000 insured drivers aged 18 and up from the general market. None were Progressive customers.

It's interesting that when people were asked to rate non-texting activities, only a minority of drivers rated any of them as safe to do while driving. Yet some still felt confident in their ability to text while driving. The percentage varied by age and gender. Those 18 to 34 were almost ten times as likely to report confidence in their texting-while-driving skills than were people 55 and older. Men were twice as likely as women to claim that confidence.

Unfortunately, that confidence is almost certainly misplaced. If you or someone you care about has been injured by a distracted driver, we hope you'll reach out to a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and options. 

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