Survey: Texting While Driving Getting Worse

By JIM VERTUNO Associated Press

AUSTIN (AP) – Texans believe texting and talking on phones while driving is getting worse and that roads are less safe than they were five years ago, despite declines in accident deaths.

A survey by the Texas Transportation Institute found that 52 percent of Texas drivers would support a law banning mobile phone use while driving. Up to 85 percent say texting or talking while driving is worse than it was five years ago.

The survey of 1,167 licensed drivers was conducted at 10 driver license stations operated by the Texas Department of Public Safety in September and October.

“People feel threatened” by drivers talking or texting on the road, said Bernie Fette, senior research specialist for the Texas Transportation Institute.

Although roadway deaths are down about 17 percent over the last five years — from 3,699 in 2004 to 3,089 in 2009 — more than a third of Texas drivers think the roads are less safe, the survey found. And 60 percent of those surveyed said aggressive driving has gotten worse.

The survey did not quiz drivers about their own driving behavior, but “people seem to be more mindful and concerned about the riskier behavior they see and are less likely to tolerate it,” Fette said.

Texas lawmakers convene the 2011 legislative session in January. Several bills to ban or limit wireless phone use while driving already have been filed.

One by Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, would ban texting, instant messaging and e-mailing while driving.

Another would ban talking on the phone while driving unless the driver uses a hands-free device. Another would toughen penalties for drivers who violate the existing ban on phone use in a school zone.

The survey also found that 48 percent favor using cameras to ticket drivers who run red lights, compared with 36 percent who oppose it.

Houston residents recently voted to turn off the city’s red-light cameras, about four years after they were first activated.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


    Ok I can see feeling threatened by “cell phones” and sure the state can pass some stupid law banning cell phones, however what about the idiots I see on my 100 mile a day commute that : eat , shave , put on make-up and my personal favorite reading the damn paper. Is the state going to ban all those things as well? No. So who cares about the phones? And just in case anyone is wondering , I have Bluetooth built in to my car.

  • Brian

    There are EXISTING LAWS that cover distracted and reckless driving. These new and proposed bills are just knee-jerk reaction and a “feel-good” busywork that is a waste of resources.

  • Jack Barnes Sr.

    Until they make the consequences severe enough for causing an accident
    and/or taking a life while texting,internet use or instant messaging then the
    problem will get worse. To cause someone else to loose their life is of little
    concern to a lot of people. They all think they can do it & get away with it &
    accidents happen to other people.

  • Erik Wood

    I think we live in a culture where business people need to ‘hit the ball over the net’. Teens consider it rude not to reply immediately to texts. Home schedules would grind to a halt without immediate communication. We are conditioned to pursue this level of efficiency but we are all supposed cease this behavior once we sit in our respective 5,000 pound pieces of steel and glass. Anyone can win an argument in a forum like this by saying “Just put the phone away” – but we can see its just not happening.

    I just read that 72% of teens text daily – many text more 4000 times a month. New college students no longer have email addresses! They use texting and Facebook – even with their professors. This text and drive issue is in its infancy and I think we need to do more than legislate.

    I decided to do something about it after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool called OTTER that is a simple GPS based texting auto reply app for smartphones. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app

  • bart.finney

    Distracted driving accidents are a result of stupid people on the road who care nothing about the safety of others and themselves. Such people should be fined heavily IMO.


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