Young drivers get all the flack. Sometimes it’s justified, like when you cite a study showing that teen drivers are involved in more car crashes than any other age group. But what about when it comes to distracted driving? Do young drivers (aged 16 – 24) deserve the lion’s share of the blame? When you see studies like this that indicate adults are actually texting and driving more than young drivers, you have to wonder.
It’s astonishing to look at the numbers of young drivers who are texting and driving vs adult drivers. For every teen who is using their phone while driving, there are 18 adults doing the same thing. This is obviously a problem that stretches far beyond the impetuousness of youth.
The reason adults give most frequently when asked about why they text and drive is simple: it’s a habit. Distracted driving has only been a hot topic of conversation for a relatively short amount of time. Compare that to how long cell phones have been in the mainstream attention, and it’s understandable why it’s such a hard habit to break.
It took about 15 years of cell phones dominating our attention before people started talking about the negative side of cell phones. In theatres, we’re now reminded before every movie to not be a “Tommy Texter”. Some places have even started making texting & walking lanes on their sidewalks, like this university. But 15 years of forming one habit makes that habit really hard to break. And because adults today were learning to drive and/or use a cell phone before using it while driving was taboo, that habit has actually become more engrained in adults than in young drivers.
According to the Pew Research Center, almost half of all American adult drivers have sent or received text messages while driving (47%, to be exact). Compare that to the 1 in 3 (34%) American teens who admit to texting while driving and you’re starting to see the broader picture. But it gets worse.
61% of the entire American adult population talks on their cell phone while driving, compared to just 43% of American teens. So what does this tell you? Despite what you might think, teens aren’t the only irresponsible drivers on the road. In fact, they’re far from it.