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Half of adults text, despite nearly all of them knowing that it's dangerous

Texting while driving remains a hotly debated topic in the U.S.

While most will agree that it can pose a dangerous distraction to drivers young and old alike, some argue that a quick text is no worse than the multitude of other (legal) distractions in our vehicles -- be they screaming children or drooling dogs.  While the federal government has practiced a mostly hands-off policy regarding texting and driving, many states have moved to ban texting while driving.  A handful have looked to allow hands-free texting via dictation systems.  But even in states where texting and drive is illegal, like Michigan, studies have shown many drivers still willfully text-and-drive.

fresh study from America's second largest mobile carrier, AT&T, Inc. (T), adds fuel to the fire.  It reports that more adult drivers are texting the road today than teens.  The study was conducted last April and examined 1,200 cell-phone owning teens between ages 15 and 19 who drive, along with 1,011 cell-phone owning adults.

According to the survey, around 43 percent of teens text while driving.  Surprisingly that number is even higher among adults -- 49 percent admit to performing the risky maneuver at some point.  Among the total participants 98 percent said they felt texting and driving was unsafe (including those who were doing it).

While they know it’s wrong, four out of ten say it's not just an occasional emergency measure, it's a habit.  And six out of ten who text-and-drive say that they did not do so three years ago, indicating the risky behavior is on the rise.

AT&T says it believes one reason why more adults text while driving than teens is the pressure of work responsibilities.  After all, it's hard to ignore that text from your boss when (s)he is demanding an immediate answer.  Thus AT&T is encouraging the adoption of anti-texting programs that call on employees and managers to cooperate to reduce the practice.

Cathy Coughlin, AT&T's global marketing officer, is heading the so-called "It Can Wait" anti-texting-and-driving campaign, which launched in 2009.  She comments, "Through the It Can Wait movement, AT&T is collaborating with employers, nonprofits, law enforcement, educators, legislators, professional associations and government agencies nationwide.  I'm confident, together we can save lives by encouraging millions more to make the personal commitment never to text and drive."

A 2009 study by Virginia Tech University's Transportation Institute suggests drivers who are texting are 23-times more likely to be involved in a collision.  At the same time, counter-intuitively traffic fatalities are at their lowest levels since 1949, according to a 2011 survey.

Source: AT&T

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Company point of view
By Cstefan on 4/1/2013 8:58:00 AM , Rating: 2
We pay your cell bill, you need to answer when called and reply when texted to. I have been at these places.

Then you have the good worker bee who feels compelled to look at emails and texts even while driving.

Everyone else is smart enough to stay alive.

RE: Company point of view
By AlvinCool on 4/1/2013 9:19:54 AM , Rating: 2
Not only do they pay my cell bill, they expect me to be on time on calls some over 100 miles apart across some rural areas. And they track me with the cell phone using the teen tracking app. If I pull over to use the apps I'm late, if I don't answer / lookup I can't manage my calls. It's a horrible situation where the best I can do is wait for a long stretch of road with no traffic.

RE: Company point of view
By Samus on 4/1/2013 10:12:03 AM , Rating: 2
One of many reasons I refuse a company-paid cell phone, and the last employer I had that required everyone have one...I quit.

RE: Company point of view
By FITCamaro on 4/1/2013 11:24:05 AM , Rating: 1
I have one and love it. Free cell phone. And we're almost never called. It's more of a benefit slash emergency work situation preparedness thing. We also get laptops for that reason. That way if there was ever a disaster, we could work from anywhere. It also gives us the flexibility to work from home if we need/want to.

RE: Company point of view
By euclidean on 4/1/2013 11:30:39 AM , Rating: 2
My company provides me with a smartphone...but lucky enough we're required to follow local laws, so living in Michigan I can ignore email/text (and even phone calls if I want) while driving...

...though, they don't track our usage of the device or where we're at either, so it's a different situation all together.

But I would agree with you if I had to work for a place that had that level of oversight...

RE: Company point of view
By alpha754293 on 4/1/2013 1:28:43 PM , Rating: 2
I think that it depends on the company and also your supervisor. I'm pretty sure that if my supervisor tried to call me or text me while I'm driving, that I should be able to tell him that I'm driving and then he'll leave me alone until I can find a good time to stop and call or text him back to find out what's up.

But again, that's depends on your supervisor.

Re: tracking
I work for a company that has some like 164,000 employees worldwide. Granted, not all of us have company cellphones of course, but I would think that even if you're trying to track 1/10th of that, it would be a bit of a management nightmare. (Somtimes, it's just not worth it, even IF they are footing the bill for it.)

RE: Company point of view
By AlvinCool on 4/2/2013 9:27:39 AM , Rating: 2
No company looks at all the data they collect. They just setup an automated collection of it then examine it as need be. AT&T sells the same package that tracks teen phones to businesses for almost nothing if they give them "X" amount of cell phones. The tracking works with map quest data so they can see every place you carried your phone during any week they need to look at. It's their phone

RE: Company point of view
By Arsynic on 4/1/13, Rating: 0
RE: Company point of view
By AlvinCool on 4/1/2013 12:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
Actually my salary is horrible, but I need a part time job while I get my degree paid for and this is all I can find in my area. Good thing my wife makes excellent money, which is why we can't move now. And you know what they say about people that call others names, that they lack the ability to perform critical thinking.

And for you guys that think your company paid cell phone isn't tracked, exactly how do you know that? It doesn't have to show up on the bill as this is a separate service paid for in group.

RE: Company point of view
By HostileEffect on 4/1/2013 1:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
Throw it into an old cardboard insulated ammo can, problem solved.

RE: Company point of view
By MrBlastman on 4/1/2013 2:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't you rather live to complete your degree than put your life at risk every day being at the beck and call of someone else that doesn't give a darn about you?

RE: Company point of view
By Reclaimer77 on 4/1/13, Rating: -1
RE: Company point of view
By MrBlastman on 4/2/2013 11:21:50 AM , Rating: 2
After witnessing people nearly run off the road multiple times due to them playing with their phones, I do. Thankfully I horned them and got their attention before they did in a few of those situations.

RE: Company point of view
By Reclaimer77 on 4/2/2013 1:49:13 PM , Rating: 1
Mesh not a huge issue IMO. More nannying first world problems. Another fake crisis issue used an excuse for more laws, more control.

RE: Company point of view
By Techslave on 4/1/2013 2:13:08 PM , Rating: 2
Also don't forget, should you die in a car accident the company will just "Get another Michael from the warehouse." (A Boy and His Dog, 1975)

Worked there, done that too.

RE: Company point of view
By dgingerich on 4/1/2013 2:13:40 PM , Rating: 3
Some people need to get a spine and tell their employers "no, I will not answer the phone or texts while I'm driving. If you don't like that, tough. I'm not going to leave you without an employee and someone else without a mother, father, or child." I do that everywhere I'm set up with a company cell phone. Once told that I will not answer while driving, they understand and back off. Of course, I'm not on the road all that much. Funny thing about standing your ground: people usually respect it and show you more respect in turn. you're more likely to keep your job, not less.

RE: Company point of view
By Solandri on 4/1/2013 3:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
Some people need to get a spine and tell their employers "no, I will not answer the phone or texts while I'm driving.

Even that's a concession. What people should actually be telling their employer is, "No, I will not answer the phone or texts outside of work hours."

Unless your job description includes time on-call, just turn off your company phone outside of work hours. If you decide to answer a company call or text outside of work hours, you're doing them a favor. I suspect the real problem is other employees doing this as a way to try to get ahead, forcing everyone into a race to the bottom where they feel compelled to answer their work calls/texts 24/7.

RE: Company point of view
By Reclaimer77 on 4/1/2013 8:41:28 PM , Rating: 1
Or you can just show some brains and pull over and or wait to answer the text when you are somewhere safe?

I've literally never had an employer that would flip out if it took a few minutes to get back to him/her. Stop portraying that absurd stereotype.

RE: Company point of view
By voodoobunny on 4/1/2013 3:11:26 PM , Rating: 2
We pay your cell bill, you need to answer when called and reply when texted to.

IANAL, but:

Any company that even remotely *implies* this in writing could face *huge* liability issues the moment *anyone* gets hurt because one of their employees was DWT (Driving While Texting). They would actively be mandating that their employees break the law (which is probably illegal in itself) and opening themselves to civil suits to boot.

If you work for a company that requires this.... get it in writing. At least then if something happens, you and other people can sue the company out of existence so they can't do it any more.

Hence why
By FITCamaro on 4/1/2013 8:39:53 AM , Rating: 2
Laws banning texting and driving are retarded. There are already laws against driving recklessly. If someone is doing that, whatever the reason, pull them over. But merely having a phone in your hand shouldn't be a reason to get pulled over. Because how does the cop know what you're doing with it. I sometimes am just holding it with it on speakerphone. That is no more distracting than driving with a hands free system (which I have and normally am using but sometimes it messes up).

You should have to be visibly driving poorly to get pulled over for texting while driving.

RE: Hence why
By ritualm on 4/1/2013 1:47:21 PM , Rating: 2
I've seen too many times where the driver has their eyes off the front windshield to yammer/type away on their phones.

One particularly dangerous example was a woman going 20 MPH over posted speed limits on the fast lane and driving so horribly she could be mistaken for DUI. Almost missed a turn to a side street, and by doing so almost smacked the side of her car into another in the center lane. She was texting the entire time.

If the company requires me to always answer my company-provided phone regardless of what I'm doing, including driving - no I will not work for them, period. My life is more valuable than a company call.

RE: Hence why
By deathwombat on 4/2/2013 1:19:48 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that they aren't always driving badly. You can be driving in a perfectly straight line, look down for a second while another car happens to cut you off, and you don't have enough reaction time to hit the brakes when you look back up. It's not necessarily that you're driving erratically, but that your eyes aren't on the road.

15 years old?
By FS on 4/1/2013 8:17:39 AM , Rating: 2
How many of them drive?

If the vast majority of drivers are ADULTS and not teens then common sense should be enough to see what they gave us in the study.

RE: 15 years old?
By tayb on 4/1/2013 10:42:27 AM , Rating: 2
Reading comprehension fail.

The study was conducted last April and examined 1,200 cell-phone owning teens between ages 15 and 19 who drive , along with 1,011 cell-phone owning adults.

The analysis is separate. 43% of surveyed teens and 49% of surveyed adults.

24/7 on-call
By croc on 4/1/2013 5:29:28 PM , Rating: 2
Been there, done that. My rule was if I was driving, my phone was off. Boss-type called my PERSONAL phone once, thinking(?) that I might answer that, which I did. Someone promptly cut me off while trying to change lanes to make my exit, to which I replied appropriately 'You ******* ***** ********* ********!'. (All overheard on my hands-free, of course...) Stunned boss-type said something like 'I hear that you are busy. We have a fault, call in as soon as possible'. Stunned boss-type was not boss-type next week.

I always answered my work phone with an explanation of where I was / doing if it was a less-than-convenient situation. 'Hello, I am on a bus' worked a treat at keeping fault calls managed...

People are not phone compatible
By CaedenV on 4/3/2013 3:27:22 PM , Rating: 2
I hate that people just have seemingly no concept on how to properly use a cell phone!

You get some people like my sister who think it is rude to not answer the phone, so if they hear it ring at an inappropriate time then they answer and snap 'I can't talk now' and then hang up! That is way more rude than just letting it go to voice mail where I can say what I need to say! If you don't answer your phone then I have enough respect to assume that you are busy, not that you are trying to avoid me.

On the other end of the spectrum, my wife (who I love dearly) use to have this horrible habit of just repeatedly calling until the person picked up. I had to explain to her that if I don't answer my phone then I either left the phone somewhere and cannot hear it, or else I wasn't answering because am in the middle of something and I keep having to silence the phone when in the middle of something important and I would call back as soon as I could. Seeing 100 missed calls puts me in a panic thinking that the house burned down or someone died, or if I am in the middle of something then I am just getting more and more annoyed at each interruption. If it is super important then call twice, and leave a VM or text after the 2nd call. Calling more than twice is simply either not going to get through, or else it is just annoying the person you are trying to call.

Another thing too, why do people insist to have whole conversations in text messages? It is fine for simple short answer questions, or if you need information that you need to reference later (like a name, number, date, address, etc.). But if a text is going to take more than 2 questions then just call the person! It is much faster to just call them and get immediate feedback. Plus you get a feel of how they are doing, and it is just a generally more beneficial (and efficient) way of doing things!

And why do people do strange things with microphones? Cell phones are designed to work just fine by putting the speaker in your ear, and then have the other end generally pointed towards your mouth. You do not need to move the phone directly in front of your mouth every time you speak so that you sound as incomprehensible as batman. You do not need to yell at the top of your lungs for the mic to pick you up. You also should get all shy and whisper the minute you pick up the phone. And holding the phone so that the mic end of it is up in the air does not make you look hip or cool... you just look like an uneducated moron. Speaking with frustrated intonation does not help someone figure out what is being said when you have bad reception. Just talk normally, and clearly, nothing else helps the situation!

When a person is driving there are some rules to follow in the conversation. When talking to someone who is driving it is not the time to work out drama or fix a relationship (or tell jokes that are going to make them laugh hysterically). It is not the time to sort out a life changing decisions. It is not the time to make the person driving try and do any kind of math, or try to remember some obscure fact, or generally do any 'slow' or 'involved' thinking. And it is also not a good time to change the subject every 2 sentences where the person driving has to try and figure out what the conversation is even about. Keep the conversation light, generally positive, and simple. Drivers will live longer for it, and when off the road it is generally good advice to follow anyways.

Also, the texting while driving thing has got to stop. You should not get a fine or a ticket. The cop should take your phone, shoot it repeatedly, suspend your license, and arrest you. Go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200. And repeat offenders should be shot on site! With the addition of a simple (and cheap) hands free set you can make calls, receive and respond to texts, and even play back music without ever needing to actually look at your phone and distract you from what you are doing. This rule should apply to anything that pulls your visual attention away from the road, not just phone use.

All that said, I am perfectly fine with people using their phones while driving, and I myself am rarely ever driving while not on the phone in one capacity or another. But people need to use common sense. Driving comes first. If you need to look at the screen for anything more than a 1 sec glance then it is something that can wait. And most importantly, if your phone is not good enough to have hands free (and look-free) features... then chances are that your conversation is not so important that you need to have it at that moment. If your conversation was that important, then your job ought to be able to pay you enough for a good phone that would let you do it without putting the rest of us responsible people in danger.

I cannot wait until cars can drive themselves! People in general are already bad drivers without modern distractions! Sadly the good drivers are probably the ones who will buy self driving cars first, and the bad drivers will try and continue driving themselves well past the point where they have to.

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