Young drivers believe it's dangerous to talk and to text on smartphones while they're driving, but they're doing it anyway, according to a new study from Consumer Reports.The magazine's latest issue found that, of those young drivers surveyed, almost all said they considered texting, accessing the Internet, or using smartphone apps while driving to be dangerous, with 80 percent saying it was “very dangerous.”Some 63 percent said talking on a handheld phone behind the wheel was dangerous.
Texting while driving is a major distractionEnlarge Photo
Yet their self-reported behavior revealed that almost half of them talked on a cellphone while driving during the past month, nearly 30 percent texted, 8 percent operated smartphone apps and 7 percent used social media or email.
Why such a discrepancy between what young drivers admit is dangerous or very dangerous and their actions? The answer, not surprisingly, is peer behavior. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said they’d seen other young drivers talking on a handheld phone, 70 percent saw texting, and nearly one-third saw their peers using social media, email or apps.
But bad (or good behavior) begins at home. Forty-eight percent of young drivers surveyed said they’d seen one of their parents talking on a handheld and 15 percent witnessed them texting in the past month.
There is some good news coming out of the survey. Parental and peer influence to stop such behavior, including peers in the car asking the driver to put down the handheld or stop texting, seems to be working, according to the survey.
Almost 50 percent of those surveyed said they’d be less likely to text or talk on a cell phone while driving if peers were with them. Consumer Reports suggests that this cessation of behavior may be due to peers speaking up, since almost half of respondents said they’d asked a driver to put down the phone for safety reasons.