More than three-quarters of college student drivers have texted while driving, despite the fact that the majority of them said they recognize the act is dangerous, according to a new study from King's College in Pennsylvania.
Researchers from the college's McGowan School of Business said in the report that young adults' "impulsiveness" and "need to be connected" may explain why so many – 80 percent – text while driving. The team, Garold Lantz and Sandra Loeb, also found that although men agree on the dangers of texting while driving, they claim they are better at doing so than others. The study was published Friday in the International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management.
"There seems to be a mentality that use of electronic devices is dangerous for everyone but 'me'," the researchers said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate more than nine people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured every day in the United States in crashes linked to distracted driving.
Currently, most states have bans on texting while driving for all drivers. Some states, such as New Mexico, Missouri and Alabama, only ban texting while driving for novice drivers, while others, such as Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma, ban the act for bus drivers. Arizona and Montana have no laws that ban texting while driving.
Connecticut police have also recently cracked down on enforcing the state's ban on texting while driving. A new law that took effect Oct. 1 allows police to report instances of distracted driving to the offenders' insurance companies and increases fines for texting and using hand-held devices while driving.
The federal government has launched a public awareness campaign centered around its distraction.gov website. The campaign, run by the U.S. Department of Transportation, claims more than 3,300 people in 2011 were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Although those distractions also include things such as eating and drinking, talking to other passengers, and adjusting the radio, the department claims text messaging is "by far the most alarming distraction," as it requires the driver's visual, manual and cognitive attention.
The CDC found 31 percent of drivers in the United States between the ages of 18 and 64 admitted to reading or sending text messages while driving at least once within the last month before they were surveyed. That's compared to rates in Europe that ranged from 15 percent in Spain to 31 percent in Portugal.
Previous studies have indicated that texting while driving may be even more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol.
A study released in May from the Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York found texting while driving has surpassed drunk driving as the leading cause of death among teenagers. Other studies have shown that drivers who are reading or sending text messages have slower response times than those who are impaired from alcohol or marijuana.
"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," Lantz and Loeb said in the statement.
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Clarified 10/30/13: A headline in a previous version of this article mischaracterized the views of male drivers on texting and driving.