Mobile phone users are using text messaging as a mainstream communication vehicle, according to a new report, a trend that industry insiders raises safety concerns about using the technology while driving.
About 55 percent of consumers now use text messaging and 42 percent use their mobile phones to text as much or more than they do to make calls, according to the report from Common Knowledge Research Services. The report, “Consumer Text Messaging Habits,” was commissioned by the Vlingo Corporation, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based wireless data services company.
Vlingo’s chief executive officer, Dave Grannan, said the report shows that government officials will need to draft public policy to ensure that texting is done safely.
“Text messaging has become an integral part of how younger generations communicate, and right now their behavior and attitudes suggest that 50 percent will be driving and texting,” Grannan said. “This problem is only going to get worse and we need to develop public policies and technologies to address this challenge.”
According to the report, 28 percent of consumers admit to driving while texting, with the worst offenders hailing from South Carolina and the least likely to text while driving from Arizona.
The report is based on a survey of 4,820 online opinion panel members, aged 13 and older, living in the continental United States. The sample was matched to U.S. Census proportions on gender, age and ethnicity and included approximately 100 respondents from each of the 48 contiguous U.S. states, according to Vlingo.
Concerns about texting while driving may be linked to rapidly growing concerns about talking on cell phones while driving.
One Harvard Center for Risk Analysis study that shows 2,600 people are killed each year from driver distraction incidents stemming from cell phone use. The statistic prompted one San Francisco-based company that deals in hands-free head sets for office environments today to offer a free set to those who are ticketed for cell phone use while driving.
A handful of states have laws that regulate cell phone use for drivers, while others have laws in place already that include more general bans on distracting activity while operating a motor vehicle.
According to Vlingo, 23 states today are considering legislation to ban driving while texting.
According to the report, 28 percent admit to driving while texting, or “DWT.” Among respondents, 78 percent believe DWT should be illegal, 85 percent of respondents say they would not DWT if it were illegal, 85 percent of teens and young adults (those 13-29) send text messages, and just over 50 percent of those ages 16-29 admit to DWT.
Driving accidents are the nation’s number one killer of teenagers, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The full Vlingo report can be downloaded at www.vlingo.com/habits.
Michael Dinan is a TMCNet Editor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
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