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

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

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

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


I hate people who use their phone when driving. Stop risking your life and others near you! Just wait till you stop.

There's nothing going on so important that it can't wait till I get wherever it is that I'm going.

I used to talk on the phone while driving but I eventually learned to avoid it. I never got into texting while driving. Not because the texting interfered with the driving, but because while driving I couldn't focus enough on the text to get a sentence out so I gave up trying.

I am extremely guilty of this. I have an hour drive to work each way, mostly divided highway or interstate. It's very hard for me to resist texting, emailing, or reading texts or emails, or reading a message board post or even posting on facebook. If there are no cars around, it's a temptation I more often than not succumb to. If I have my kids in the car I won't get on there unless I'm at a stop sign or stop light and never while driving with them. I've been doing better, but my OCD kicks in sometimes.

i would imagine. in toronto we have a law against texting and driving but when you look on the road everyone is doing it. people are just use to checking their phones all the time

It's rather sickening how engulfed into their phones some people are while driving! Staying stopped at green lights, running the red ones. Swerving in and out of lanes! What in this world could ever be so important that cannot wait? Typing "lol" to a cat 'hazzing' cheeseburger can certainly wait! It's rather infuriating to say the least. Kind of makes a person want to switch lanes, getting in front of said texter, and slam on the brakes. Thank you Florida no-fault.

I used to text while driving like 3 years ago, but I stopped doing that a while ago. I also don't answer my phone in the car, due to science and a heart wrenching experience a friend went through. But my dad texts while driving, answers the phone while driving, messes with his gps while driving and I've told him if it doesn't stop I won't let him drive anymore. As a man who claims to be about science my dad ignores what science says in this matter. It can wait, but if it can't? Hey, there's a shoulder right there for you to pull over on.

I'll check my phone while at a red light and make sure there is nothing important that i missed, But to try to text or email while driving down a highway? That is just asking for trouble...

I do not text, at all. Don't talk on the phone when driving.

Have been rear ended by a texter, who admitted to it to police.

My wife used to text while driving, not any more.
Not since she ran head on in to a semi coming from the opposite side of the road,
While texting

It should be against the law, everywhere.

I've used siri a few times to send a text while driving but even that is a little distracting albeit much less distracting then trying to type out a msg on a touchscreen. I don't have much tolerance for people who drive like idiots and most people have a hard enough time with 0 distractions much less checking their stupid FB or twitter while at a stoplight or texting their friends/family something stupid while driving. Then again, no matter what TV campaigns or laws that get put into place the people who want to do this will continue to do it because they feel as if they are "better at it" then others. It isn't until something bad happens that they will quit.

Driving behind a texter is the most obnoxious thing ever. But hands free options are getting better recently. It'll only improve..

I drive an SUV and I can tell if the car in front of me is pretty easily just from being higher than them overall. But at night it's REALLY obvious.

"Some of us can't take being 'bored' for even a moment" is a scary thought all by itself. People who can't go a moment without constant external stimulation, who can't ever just sit quietly or be patient, these are people who don't know how to give attention to anything and aren't capable of focusing on a single task or carefully thinking anything through. The Internet and smartphones didn't create that problem -- there have always been people like that -- but they seem to encourage a potentially destructive behavior pattern.

I have too much fun while driving to waste it on the phone. It's hard to hit the apexes perfect with one hand. :P

Why people are so stupid? Why will you drive and text at the same time, besides, use siri, that's why you have siri on your iphone 5 or 4s, people
Need to start to think smarter

I really made a conscience decision not to text while driving. I only text at red lights using the voice recognition.

Oohhhh yea, I see people texting while on the highway every day on my way too and from work, some of the stretches exceed 70 MPH and they're not even looking at the road. It makes me insane. That absolutely freaks me out.

People texting and driving are very annoying. I hate when people do it and I'm there passenger. It's like "WTF BRO, risk your own life all you want but don't go risking mine!" Only problem is even if you weren't riding with them and in a car next to/in front of/behind they are still a danger to you. More vehicles need hands/eyes free technology in them. Glad a lot of car companies signed up with Apple for Siri eyes free feature.

I find I drive better with my left knee so I can use both thumbs. It saves time so I don't have to waste time looking at the road and phone. I wait for a point on the road where I think I'll have 10 seconds to look away and quickly text. You'd be surprised how little you actually have to look at the road to maintain a relatively straight path.

Texting while driving is illegal here in Islamabad (Pakistan) as well. And despite the bumpy roads in various areas, even that doesn't stop some people from texting while driving - always sneaking their phones out of sight upon seeing a policeman or aware of an upcoming checking point.

Unfortunately, it still leads to accidents and people just don't learn! I guess recklessness is a part of most all around the world!

Distractions will always be everywhere, I think talking in the phone is safer than texting - at Lear you can look at the road!
But some people are just terrible driers with or without a phone.

Nooo....... Talking on the phone while driving is the bane of society. Those people always drive 10 to 15 mph slower than the speed limit and/or whatever the flow of traffic is. Completely Unaware of what they are doing or their surroundings. They never check behind or to the side. MUCH worse than texting, but texting and browzing the internet.. or watching CNet TV or a Movie -- all are major problems.

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?
Rene...I honestly try not to text while driving but it does happen sometimes. I have not mastered the Siri thing yet. I know this is extremely dangerous. It is kind of crazy but I use bluetooth to talk in my truck but wish I would use Siri. I like Siri but I find it has been difficult to incorporate it into my life. I have family...specifically my wife that text while driving too much...I have tried to talk with her about it but it hasn't changed. Maybe with iOS 7 and getting her out of her iPhone 4 and into an iPhone 5 with Siri might help her. I am shocked by the article due to the fact that the percentage of teens isn't higher.

My phone stays IN my pouch IN my purse ON THE FLOOR til I am at a stopping point where I can text. I don't leave it out where I can see it, or reach it.

I have it set up on my phone that if I'm driving, all texts get a response of: "I'm driving, call me instead" because I use bluetooth and I refuse to text and drive. It is wicked dangerous.

< shinuyuki says:
Mar 28, 2013 at 5:36 pm - 1 day ago I have it set up on my phone that if I'm driving, all texts get a response of: "I'm driving, call me instead" because I use bluetooth and I refuse to text and drive. It is wicked dangerous.>

I just researched 'auto response to texts' and found that it not an option on Apple products. Not even an app for that. Too Bad. Maybe apple will create something in IOS7 for texting like they did for replying to phone calls with"Reply with Message".

I have been using an iPhone for years since the 3G first was released. I have never used a jailbroken phone but maybe it's time to think about it. That would be a very good option to have.

Even using Siri to send text messages can be distracting enough. If I have to touch my phone, then I feel distracted enough to wreck. That's what I use my head phones and those controls on them to use Siri. That way, my eyes don't leave the road.

Well I have always used a Bluetooth device. Siri helps a little. However, everyone here is correct - can't it wait? I thank the cellular holes I drive through every day.

Apple has made it so we don't even need to touch our phones while driving as long as you have a Bluetooth and Siri!

Distracted driving makes me crazy. Society has been hammering out the message about distracted driving for a long time. So maybe the old adage is true that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. The youth of today has grown up with this message and it has become ingrained... at least more so than the older generations it seems.

The day that TPTB outlaw billboards positioned along busy highways is that day that I'll believe that they are serious about eliminating distracted driving.

You don't solve a problem by making a law against it. You solve a problem by introducing a new paradigm that makes the old one obsolete. In the context of driving distractions, we need to fully embrace self-driving cars and limit manual cars to the race track.