WASHINGTON (AFP) — Nearly three-quarters of Americans drive while distracted by activities such as talking on the phone, largely because they feel pressured to stay in touch, a poll published Monday showed.
More than 80 percent of mobile phone owners said they talk on the phone while driving, the survey, conducted last month by the Nationwide insurance company, said.
Forty percent of American mobile phone owners between the ages of 16 and 30 admitted to composing and sending text messages while driving.
An equal percentage have been hit or almost hit by another driver who was using a mobile phone, the survey said.
"Current 'rules' making it socially and professionally unacceptable to not respond immediately to a call or email have made DWD (driving while distracted) commonplace," said Bill Windsor of the Nationwide insurance company, which conducted the telephone survey of 1,503 US drivers last month.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there are 115 road fatalities each day in the United States and distracted driving causes 80 percent of road accidents.
Nearly half of those polled said mobile phones and other technology were the most dangerous distraction at the wheel.
Younger drivers -- in the United States, people start driving at 16 -- were the least likely to use their phones while at the wheel.
Sixty percent of teens used their mobile phones while driving, 65 percent of baby-boomers (45-61), 78 percent of the 18-30 age group and 80 percent of the 31-44s.
Teens were also more likely than their older counterparts to pull over to talk or send a text message, the survey showed.
"The lower occurrence rate (among teens) could be attributed to ... laws for teens that ban cell phone use while driving, increased parental control or the fact that they are just learning and more apt to follow the rules," the survey said.
In a study published last year by Harris Interactive, 92 percent of Americans said driving while talking on the phone was as bad as getting behind the wheel of a car after having a few drinks.
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