New poll finds younger drivers more likely to text and drive

(March 7, 2011) YONKERS, N.Y. —Thirty percent of respondents under 30 years of age said they had texted while driving in the past 30 days in a poll taken by Consumer Reports National Survey Center.

The disturbing findings were released today as the the U.S. Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports announced a new partnership to educate parents, teachers, and teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

Consumer Reports said the poll shows younger drivers are more likely to use handheld devices while driving — and less likely to view them as a danger.

Sixty-three percent of respondents under 30 years old reported using a handheld phone while driving in the past 30 days, compared with 41 percent of respondents 30 or older. And only 9 percent of the older respondents said they texted while driving.

Among the under-30 respondents, only 36 percent were very concerned about the problem of distracted driving, and only 30 percent felt it was very dangerous to use a handheld phone.

Sixty-four percent of respondents overall said they had seen other drivers texting using a handheld device in the past 30 days. 94 percent had observed drivers talking on a mobile phone and 58 percent had seen a dangerous driving situation related to a distracted driver in the past month.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents overall said they had reduced or stopped behaviors related to distracted driving.  Of that group, 66 percent said they did so because of reading or hearing about the dangers.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined Jim Guest, the president of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, at the organization’s headquarters this morning to discuss the risks of distracted driving at a panel discussion by safety experts representing schools, families, and law enforcement. 

“Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roads, and teens are especially vulnerable because of their inexperience behind the wheel and, often, peer pressure,” LaHood said. “Behind the statistics are real families who have been devastated by these tragedies. We’re pleased to be working with Consumer Reports to raise awareness and help communities fight this problem.”

According to the Department of Transportation, nearly 5,500 people in the U.S. were killed and almost half a million were injured in accidents related to distracted driving in 2009.  Eighteen percent of those fatal accidents involved the use of a cell phone.

Starting today, a free guide for parents and educators called “Distracted Driving Shatters Lives” is available at the Department of Transportation (DOT)’s web site and at