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80% of college students text while driving

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Texting while driving

Despite the dangers of texting while driving, it’s a growing trend that is fast becoming one of America’s top killers. According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving causes 1,600,000 accidents per year, which is almost 25% of all car accidents.

Although 39 states, plus D.C., prohibit drivers from text messaging, a new study reveals that four of five college students admit to texting while behind the wheel.

The study, published recently in the International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management, says texting while driving is more common in men who frequently assume they’re better drivers; thus, they tend to think they’re not as likely to get in an accident while texting and driving.

A news release from the journal cited previous research that found only 2.5 percent of people are able to actually perform more than one task at a time – and those who can multitask are simply better skilled at shifting from one activity to the next, say study authors Garold Lantz and Sandra Loeb, of the McGowan School of Business.

Previous studies have also demonstrated that texting while driving is similar to drunk driving. Indeed, texting behind the wheel can actually slow a driver’s reaction time even more than driving while drunk.

"There seems to be a mentality that use of electronic devices is dangerous for everyone but 'me'," the researchers noted, adding that the results of their study could prove useful to government officials by helping them better understand attitudes about texting while driving, while also helping improve public-awareness efforts to stop such a dangerous practice.

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"If further research conclusively demonstrates that texting while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk, this study suggests that a promotional campaign should be undertaken to assure that this point is clearly understood," the researchers explained.

Texting while driving is not limited to college students or teens either, as 27% of adults also admit to sending or reading texts while behind the wheel.

So what can YOU do to help curb texting and driving?

The FCC offers the following suggestions:

Give Clear Instructions – Give teen drivers simple, clear instructions not to use their wireless devices while driving. According to Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, the easiest way to say it is: “On the road, off the phone.” Before new drivers get their licenses, discuss the fact that taking their eyes off the road – even for a few seconds – could cost someone injury or even death.

Lead by Example – Children learn from their parent’s behavior. No one should text and drive. Be an example for your children and if you need to text or talk on the phone, pull over to a safe place.

Become Informed and Be Active - Review the information available at the FCC Clearinghouse by clicking here. Set rules for yourself and your household regarding distracted driving. Tell family, friends and organizations to which you belong about the importance of driving without distractions. Take information to your children’s’ schools and ask that it be shared with students and parents.

SOURCES: 1. "An exploratory study of psychological tendencies related to texting while driving" in Int. J. Sustainable Strategic Management, 2013, 4, 39-49, Press Release (October 11, 2013); 2. FCC, "The Dangers of Texting While Driving".