Over a Third of Drivers Text While Driving, Vlingo Says

A driver in a Mitsubishi Galant uses a handheld mobile phone.

A driver in a Mitsubishi Galant uses a handheld mobile phone.  (Ed Poor / Wikimedia)

There's a disturbing number of people texting and driving, according to Vlingo's third annual "Texting While Driving in America Report." Released Thursday, the results show that 35 percent of mobile users are owning up to the deed, a significant increase from last year's 26 percent.

"Despite the growing awareness of distracted driving, people continue to endanger themselves and their passengers by typing and reading messages behind the wheel," Dave Grannan, Vlingo's president and chief officer, said in a statement.

The study, conducted by independent research firm Toluna, surveyed more than 5,000 consumers. It showed individuals in their 20's to be the worst offenders with a staggering 62 percent admitting to texting behind the wheel. However, the 20-29 age bracket doesn't deserve all of the blame. Fifty-three percent of people ages 16-19 are guilty, as well as 17 percent of drivers 50-59. Idaho is home to the highest percentage of distracted drivers with 45 percent, followed by Kentucky and Missouri with 44 and 43 percent, respectively.

Although 30 states plus the District of Columbia have bans on texting while driving, a quarter of drivers don't even know the status of their state's law, said the study. According to another recent study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI), a ban might not matter anyway. HDLI's study showed that the rate of collisions even increased in some states after a ban was enacted.

"It's clear that consumers are still tempted to reach for their cell phone when text messages come through while they are driving," Grannan said. "The good news is today's technology has advanced to the point where those incoming messages can be automatically read out loud when they arrive and drivers can simply speak to respond to urgent messages while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road -- and Vlingo will be making this technology available in the next few weeks for free for certain mobile phones."

Boston-based startup AdelaVoice today launched an Android-supported app for completely hands-free texting called StartTalking. A user speaks a designated name for their phone to "wake up" the device, and then voice controls assist texters in sending, receiving, and reviewing their messages.

Vlingo's study said 67 percent of drivers would feel safer if they could use voice controls to text. Vlingo has a voice-controlled app, as does Google, but both require a user to manually tap a control to begin executing voice commands.

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