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Drivers, especially young ones, text but say it should be illegal

The majority of drivers believe that distracted driving is the largest contributor to car accidents. Over 90 percent of those surveyed recently agreed that it should be illegal. At the same time, 34 percent of drivers are confident that they can safely text while driving -- and that percentage goes up to 62 percent when considering only drivers between 18 and 34.

The online survey queried around 1,000 drivers aged 18 and older in the general consumer market. It was performed in August by Progressive Insurance, but the respondents weren't Progressive customers.

"We hope this study starts conversations around distracted driving and how to reduce it. It's especially interesting that most people recognize this activity is dangerous, yet many people feel confident in their own ability to text and drive," said a spokesperson for the company.

In 2015 alone, 3,477 people died in traffic accidents that involved distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another 391,000 were injured.

Among all the drivers surveyed, 65 percent said that texting or looking at a phone while driving is the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. Fully 83 percent of them said that texting while driving should be a primary traffic offense, meaning that police ought to be able to stop a driver for that reason alone.

Even so, 34 percent responded that they were "very confident" or "somewhat confident" in their ability to safely text behind the wheel. Men were nearly twice as likely to say they were "very confident."

It gets even more interesting among 18- to 34-year-olds. 64 percent of the age group believed that texting or looking at a phone is the most common cause of traffic crashes, but fully 62 percent still felt "very confident" or "somewhat confident" in their ability to safely do so.

The survey also asked drivers about their confidence with other potentially distracting activities. Unfortunately, texting ranked pretty high. Among all drivers, the following percentages felt the activities to be safe:

  • Listening to music - 43 percent
  • Using a map app at a stoplight - 37 percent
  • Texting/looking at a phone - 34 percent
  • Making a phone call -25 percent
  • Looking at an app while at a stoplight - 22 percent
  • Using a virtual assistant to search for a phone contact - 19 percent

Finally, the survey respondents were asked what feeling was evoked when seeing another driver texting. The most common were concern (62 percent) and irritation (50 percent).

If you have been in an accident with a distracted driver, we recommend discussing your situation with a personal injury attorney who can help you determine your best steps forward.

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