A new survey by Progressive Insurance found that about a third of all drivers feel confident that they can text and drive safely -- and that number jumps to 62 percent among 18- to 34-year-olds. Interestingly, over 90 percent also say that texting while driving should be illegal.
The survey was performed online in August of this year. The respondents were insured drivers in the general market, not Progressive customers. About 1,000 drivers age 18 and older responded.
There were surprising differences in confidence about texting behind the wheel. Twice as many men as women said they were "very confident" in their texting-while-driving skills. Nevertheless, 88 percent of men and 97 percent of women said they thought texting shouldn't be allowed while driving.
Young people were much more confident than older people in their ability to text and drive safely. While 62 percent of younger people were either "very confident" or "somewhat confident" in their ability to safely text in the driver's seat, only 6 percent of those 55 and over felt the same way. Yet 64 percent of young people acknowledged that texting or looking at a phone while driving is among the most common causes of accidents.
Overall, over 65 percent of those surveyed acknowledged the dangerousness of texting while driving. Fully 83 percent thought texting while driving should be a primary offense, allowing police to pull someone over for that reason only.
Yet 34 percent of all drivers still felt they were safe to text and drive.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people died in 2015 in accidents involving distracted drivers. Another 391,000 were injured.
Are teens really able to text and drive safely? Perhaps their fluency with the technology and greater experience with texting allows them to avoid serious distraction while they drive? Unfortunately, no. Teens make up the largest group of drivers designated as distracted after fatal accidents.
Beyond texting, there were other potential distractions identified in the survey. Here they are with the percentage of respondents who said the activities were safe to do while driving. How many do you think are safe?
- Listening to music - 43 percent
- Using a map app at a stoplight - 37 percent
- Using a map while driving - 35 percent
- Making a phone call - 25 percent
- Looking at an app while stopped in traffic - 21 percent
- Looking at an app while at a stoplight - 22 percent
- Using a virtual assistant to search for a phone contact - 19 percent