One in four (26%) of American teens of driving age say they have texted while driving, and half (48%) of all teens ages 12 to 17 say they’ve been a passenger while a driver has texted behind the wheel.
These findings form the centerpiece of a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that looks at teens, mobile phones and distracted driving. The report is based on a telephone survey of 800 teens ages 12-17 and a parent or guardian as well as 9 focus groups with middle and high school students.
“Many teens understand the risks of texting behind the wheel,” said Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist at the Internet & American Life Project and co-author of the distracted driving report, “but the desire to stay connected is so strong for teens and their parents that safety sometimes takes a backseat to staying in touch with friends and family.”
Boys and girls are equally likely to report texting behind the wheel as well as riding with texting drivers. As teens get older, they are more likely to report riding with drivers who text.
“Cell phones are often seen as devices that can make our lives more efficient, allowing us to multi-task in our idle moments,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and co-author of the report, “and whether you’re a teenager or an adult, it’s tempting to think you can manage several different activities at once.”
About the Survey
This report is based on the findings of a telephone survey on teens' and parents’ use of mobile phones and 9 focus groups conducted in 4 U.S. cities between June and October 2009 with teens between the ages of 12 and 18. The quantitative results in this report are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research International between June 26 and September 24, 2009, among a sample of 800 teens ages 12-17 and a parent or guardian. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3.8
percentage points for the complete set of weighted data. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting telephone surveys may introduce some error or bias into the findings of opinion polls. For more information, please see the Methodology section
of this report.