Survey: Americans say texting while driving should be illegal

They say it's as bad as drunken driving

Nine out of 10 American adults believe that driving while texting is dangerous and should be against the law, according to a new survey.

In addition, 91% of adults surveyed by research firm Harris Interactive Inc. thought that drivers sending text messages or e-mails are as dangerous as those who have had a couple of drinks before getting behind the wheel.

However, the survey, which was commissioned by Pinger Inc., a mobile messaging service that uses a hands-free headset, also found that 66% of adults who drive a car and have used text messaging said they have read text messages or e-mails while driving, and 57% of the same people said they have sent text messages or e-mails while driving.

The dangers of text messaging while driving came to prominence after a June 28 car crash that killed five teenagers in New York. Text messages were sent and received on the 17-year-old driver's cell phone minutes before the car she was driving crashed head-on into a truck. Although crash investigators said that they would never know who was using the phone, they said texting could have been one of the factors involved in the crash.

Six states, including New York, California and Florida, are considering legislation that would ban texting while driving. Washington banned texting while driving in May.

The survey also found that 64% of adults who admitted to sending text messages while driving were between the ages of 18 and 34, while only 6% were 55 or older. In addition, men and women sent text messages while driving at equal rates, the research found.

Harris surveyed 2,049 adults online between June 28 and July 3.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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