AT&T says commuters even worse than teens when it comes to texting while driving

Recent surveys commissioned by US cellular network provider AT&T cast a grim light on the state of texting-while-driving, showing commuters are even worse than teens when it comes to the dangerous practice. According to AT&T:

Commuters are texting and driving even more than teens – 49%, compared to 43%. And the problem has gotten worse. Six in 10 commuters say they never texted while driving three years ago.

These days I typically commute only as far as my home office or local coffee shop, but my previous job entailed a 60-90 minute commute downtown, each way, every day, for over a decade. During that time I saw a lot of people texting while driving. I also saw people reading the newspaper across their steering wheel while driving, or eating while driving, or putting on makeup, or bent over fussing with the radio or GPS, or, in a couple of cases... with other people sitting on top of them. Yeah.

The real issue here is distracted driving, of which texting-while-driving is a major instance. Laws tend to focus on the instances, however, which is where things like awareness campaigns can help.

Some of us can't take being "bored" for even a moment, so traffic lights, stop signs, even relatively straight pieces of road become an excuse to text, tweet, email, get in a moment of gaming, or otherwise do... something. Some of us are so used to being online now, the idea of being cut off seems intolerable, even when our lives depend on zero distractions.

I used to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while on the road, and I carpooled a lot. At least conversations with friends in the car come with additional sets of eyeballs for the road. (Yet arguments, fights, and other extreme interactions, front seat or back, can also be huge distractions.)

Technologies like Siri in general and Siri Eyes-free in specific may one day minimize some types of distractions, but many others will likely remain. Relieving boredom, staying in contact, shoving down some food or on some eyeliner, fooling with the radio or navigation, or just plain fooling around, are short term benefits, and humans are often really bad at weighing those against potential consequences, even life-threatening ones.

And according to AT&T, that's as true, or truer for adults now than for kids.

So how do you handle distractions while driving? And if you have friends and family members who drive while distracted, how do you handle them?

Source: AT&T