Texting While Driving Rises 50 Percent in 2010, Government Says

Paul Lilly

There are enough bad drivers on the road as it is, do we really need the added distraction of texting while behind the wheel? We're not crazy about either one, and when you combine the two, it makes us want to stay off the road altogether. Unfortunately that's not really an option, which is why it's so concerning that more and more drivers are finding it acceptable to fire off text messages while driving.

According to an annual study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, texting while driving increased 50 percent in 2010, The Wall Street Journal reports. Two out of every 10 drivers admit they've sent text messages or emails while behind the wheel.

This isn't just happening at stop lights. About 18 percent of more than 6,000 drivers aged 18 years or older say they've texted or emailed someone while actually driving, even as more bans are put in place.

"It is clear that educational messages alone aren't going to change their behavior," Jonathan Adkins, a spokesman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, told WSJ. "Rather, good laws with strong enforcement are what is needed. Many drivers won't stop texting until they fear getting a ticket. The increase shows what an uphill challenge distracted driving remains."

On the bright side, and even a little bit ironic, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today anounced updated 2010 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 32,886 for the year, the lowest level in more than six decades, dating back to 1949.

If you're a stat and survey junkie, arm yourself with a PDF reader and check out the " National Phone Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors. "

Image Credit: nhtsa.gov

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