Nearly half of all texting adults say they have sent or read a text message on their mobile phone while driving, compared to one in three texting teens ages 16 and 17, the Pew Internet & American Life Project found in a survey released Friday. Overall, Pew found that 27% of all U.S. adults say they have sent or read text messages behind the wheel.
Pew also found that 49% of adults say they have been passengers in a car when a driver was sending or reading text messages. Overall, 44% of adults say they have been passengers of drivers who have used a mobile phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger. The numbers were about equal to those of teens.
Besides motorists, pedestrians can also get into trouble while texting. The study found that one in six cell phone-toting adults have physically bumped into another person or an object while talking or texting on their phone.
Beyond texting, adults were also more likely to talk on a cell phone while driving than teens. Three in four cell phone-owning adults say they have talked on a phone while driving, compared to a little more than half of phone-owning teens.
The findings for adults 18 or older are based on a nationwide phone survey of 2,252 people between April 29 and May 30. The numbers associated with teens 16 and 17 were taken from a separate study Pew conducted in 2009.
A study conducted last year by the University of Utah found that texting while driving can be up to six times more dangerous than talking on a cell phone while driving. Researchers found that texting was more dangerous because it requires drivers to switch their attention from one task to another.
By contrast, motorists just talking on a mobile phone attempt to divide their attention between a conversation and driving, adjusting priorities of the two activities depending on the task demands, researchers said.
Nevertheless, safety advocates have condemned both practices, and many states have laws banning both.