As adults continue to mirror the social media habits of the nation’s youth, it appears some of the bad behaviors are being adopted as well. In fact, the grown-ups have apparently become the greater offenders when it comes to one particularly dangerous behavior: Texting while driving.
That's according to a new study conducted by AT&T, reported in USA Today, that shows adults text more while driving than their teenage counterparts.
The study finds that nearly half of all adults admit to texting while driving, with 98 percent of them saying they know the practice is dangerous. Conversely, 43 percent of teenagers admit to texting while behind the wheel.
"I was a little bit surprised," Charlene Lake, AT&T's senior vice president of public affairs, told USA Today.
But why do adults text while driving if they know it's unwise? The answers are complicated, but according to some adults who told Yahoo News about their own distracted driving, they feel shame, guilt and stubbornness when texting.
AT&T surveyed 1,011 adult drivers for its It Can Wait campaign, which seeks to educate drivers about the risks of distracted driving. The company has launched a free app that sends an automated and customizable reply text message to incoming texts when the vehicle is moving at 25 mph or more.
A similar study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 31 percent of all drivers in the U.S. text while driving, despite the practice being illegal in 39 states and the District of Columbia. In that same CDC study, 69 percent of all drivers admitted to using their cellphone while driving.
So, how bad is texting compared with other driving distractions? Virginia Tech Transportation Institute researchers say that sending or receiving a text breaks a driver’s concentration for an average of 4.6 seconds. And as USA Today notes, at 55 mph that’s enough distance to cover the length of a football field.