A new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that 27 percent of motorists sent a text or email while driving in the past month.
It also found that two out of three motorists talked on their phone while driving in the last 30 days, and 89 percent believe others using cell phones are a danger to their safety.
The survey gauged the reactions of about 3,900 U.S. residents ages 16 and older to different safety situations.
AAA East Central spokesperson Bevi Powell said they also found motorists who regularly use their cellphones in the car were more likely to engage in other questionable behavior, with 65 percent admitting to speeding and 16 percent driving without a seatbelt.
She said talking on your phone in the car takes attention away from the road.
“You’re focusing on something other than driving your vehicle,” said Powell. “An average vehicle weighs 4,000 lbs. so you want to make sure that you are concentrating on maneuvering that vehicle safely. If you’re distracted then you’re a danger to everyone else on the road as well as yourself.”
Powell said people can take certain actions to prevent themselves from being tempted to text or talk on their phone. These include:
- Putting the phone out of reach
- Turning their phone off while in the car
- Turning off the sound so notification chimes don’t temp you
- Remembering not to call or text a teenager when you know they’re driving
She said 39 states including Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia have laws banning people from texting while driving.
“It’s important to realize that the average text to send or receive takes about four seconds, and during that time when you’re traveling 55 miles per hour you can cover the length of a football field basically driving blind.”
The survey also found 14 percent of motorists drove when they thought their blood-alcohol content was close or over the legal limit in the last 30 days, as well as 38 percent of drivers admitting to running red lights.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 32,367 people were killed in 2011 in motor vehicle accidents, making it the leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds.