Distracted Driving

A Report Presented by Vlingo Corporation

September 2010
The third annual Vlingo Texting While Driving in America report aimed to uncover Americans' attitudes and activities surrounding the use of mobile messaging, and determine any changes in consumer behavior over the past 12 months. Conducted in the first quarter of 2010, the survey examined consumer text messaging habits, including: how and when consumers use text messaging, what is preventing more consumer usage, and attitudes and behaviors related to texting while driving (TWD). Responses were generated from 4,800 people living in the continental United States. The survey was commissioned by Vlingo Corporation and fielded by independent panel research firm Toluna. The survey bears a statistical accuracy of +/-1.41% at the 95% confidence level.

Executive Summary
The Department of Transportation recently conducted a Distracted Driving Summit. At the summit, it was noted that there are three types of distraction - visual, manual and cognitive.  TWD is considered the "perfect storm" as it involves all three types of distraction, making it the most dangerous form.

The Vlingo Texting While Driving in America Report reveals that despite the increase in national awareness of distracted driving over the last 12 months, reading and typing text messages while driving has remained the same. In 2009, only seven states and the District of Columbia banned TWD, while as of September 2010, 30 states, the District of Columbia and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. An additional 8 states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers. Despite more states instituting bans and increased awareness of the dangers of TWD, more than one third of mobile phone users still admit to texting behind the wheel.

Despite states instituting laws banning texting while driving, consumers continue to do so, while more people support safety measures such as voice recognition and hands-free solutions
Last year 26% of all mobile phone users reported sending texts while driving. Although more states now have TWD laws, 35% of mobile phone users admit to texting behind the wheel in 2010. TWD occurs in all age groups. Over 50% of those ages 16 to 19 admit to TWD, down from almost 60% in 2009 but of those 20 to 29, 62% admit to driving behind the wheel which is up from 49% in 2009. The percentages get smaller for older respondents.

There is general agreement (83%) that texting while driving should be illegal

  •  44% of those surveyed have been passengers in a vehicle where the driver was reading or typing a text message and 76% of those passengers felt unsafe.
  •  91% of drivers feel that they are more likely to get into an accident while reading or typing a text message.  81% are trying to limit the frequency with which they read or type text messages while driving
  • 90% think reading or typing a text message is just as unsafe as not wearing a seatbelt
  • There is growing awareness of the dangers of TWD over the past year.  In 2009 36% of respondents did not know if they lived in a state that had a ban on TWD while in 2010 that number dropped to 25%

With an eye toward safety, 67% would feel safer if they had the ability to speak text messages into their phone without taking their eyes off the road

  • As of September, 30 states, the District of Columbia and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. But even with bans in place, drivers are still texting while driving.
    • Among the 3 states with the worst record of TWD, Idaho, (45% of respondents admitting to TWD), Kentucky (44%), and Missouri (43%) only Kentucky has a full ban on TWD.
    •  The state with the best record, New Mexico (22%), currently has no TWD law. However, the two states with the next-best records, Alabama (22 %) and Maine (22%) both have partial laws prohibiting TWD.

Texting in general:

  • Overall, 66% of mobile phone owners use their phones to text
  • In 2009, teens and twenty-somethings were by far the largest users of texting, coming in at 85%. In 2010, this continued to be true with teens at 97% and 20-somethings at 93%, but usage also increased for older age groups. Among those in their 30s, usage jumped from 75% to 79%, those in their 40s increased from 64% to 70%, and for those in their 50s it jumped from 46% to 55%.
  •  The volume of text messages has gone up as well across all age groups, although the 13 to 19 age group remains the most active, with 34% sending more than 1000 texts per month on average. Overall, 43% of respondents of all ages send more than 100 texts per month.

The survey was commissioned by Vlingo Corporation and administered independently by Toluna, a market research firm.  Yearly reports are available below.