Who are the worst texting offenders: Teens or adults?

Most teenagers believe (to a certain extent) that they are invincible. They engage in risky behavior believing that terrible things simply will not happen to them. This may explain the rate of fatal auto accidents involving young people between the ages of 15 and 20 (which is the age group most at risk).

However, this "it won't happen to me" attitude is surprisingly prevalent among adults. According to a recent USA Today report, adults are more of a problem when it comes to texting while driving than teenagers. A survey conducted by AT&T found that while 98 percent of adults know that texting while behind the wheel is wrong, 49 percent admitted that they did so.

This rate was higher than teens who said that they sent (and read) messages while driving (which was 43 percent).

It is also surprising given that 39 states and the District of Columbia ban the practice. In New Jersey, drivers may not text while driving, and they must use hands-free systems while talking on cell phones. A first time violation is punished with a $100 fine. Also, drivers under 21 are prohibited from using handheld devices (hands-free or otherwise) while driving.

Moreover, the New Jersey legislature is considering bills that would allow prosecutors to charge an offending driver with vehicular homicide if a fatal accident is caused by cell phone use.

These highlights are also important in considering the civil liability that stems from distracted driving accidents. Texting while driving is an example of the failure to use reasonable care while operating a car; a primary element in establishing a negligence claim. But ultimately, adults should know better.

Source: USA Today.com, Texting in traffic: Adults worse than teens, March 28, 2013

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