Despite laws against driving while texting in some states—and support from cellular carriers for stricter laws to curb the practice—about one in four mobile phone users still texts when driving, according to a recent survey of nearly 5,000 U.S. consumers.
The Vlingo Consumer Mobile Messaging Habits Report, conducted by Toluna, an independent research firm, found that 26 percent of mobile phones users text when behind the wheel.
Drivers in Tennessee were the worst, with 42 percent admitting to texting and driving, according to Vlingo, a maker of voice user interface software. The other states in the top five were New Jersey, Alabama, Idaho, and Oklahoma.
Arizona had the fewest number of people who admitted to driving while texting, with nearly 19 percent said they did so. Joining Arizona in the ranks of states with the best records were Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio and Michigan.
The survey, the second conducted by Toluna for Vlingo, shows that 60 percent of mobile phone users are now texting, compared with 54 percent of respondents who said they texted in last year’s survey.
Texting while driving seems to be age-related. While 60 percent of respondents between the ages of 16 and 19 admitted to the practice, only 13 percent of those in their 50s admitted doing so. About half of those between 20 and 29 admitted doing so.
As for whether texting and driving should be made illegal, 83 percent said it should. Another 7 percent said it should be legal and 10 percent were undecided.
The issue of texting while driving has grown in importance as texting has become more prevalent. The CTIA, which represents all of the major cellular carriers in the U.S., in January concluded that the practice should be against the law. The debate over such laws was reinvigorated in recent weeks when the operator of a subway train in Boston struck another train while texting.
According to Vlingo, seven states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting anyone from sending text messages while operating a vehicle. Several other states have passed or have considered similar laws aimed at younger drivers.