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Young drivers are confident they can text behind the wheel

According to a new survey, 62 percent of drivers aged 18 to 34 are at least somewhat confident they can text safely while driving. Around a third of all drivers felt confident they could do so. At the same time, over 90 percent of drivers believe that distracted driving should be illegal.

Are those who are confident in their texting-and-driving abilities wrong? It seems likely. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2015. Another 391,000 were injured. Young people were the most confident in their abilities, yet teens were the age group most likely to have been ruled the distracted driver in those accidents.

The survey polled approximately 1,000 insured drivers aged 18 and older. Although the survey was conducted by Progressive Insurance, the respondents weren't Progressive customers.

"We hope this study starts conversations around distracted driving and how to reduce it," said a spokesperson for Progressive.

The survey also considered other activities that are potentially distracting while driving. Unfortunately, drivers rated texting as one of the safer ones. Here is the percentage who thought each activity was safe:

  • Listening to music - 43 percent
  • Using a map app while at a stoplight - 37 percent
  • Using a map app while driving - 35 percent
  • Texting - about 33 percent
  • Using a map - 30 percent

It's interesting that more of the drivers surveyed rated texting as safe than said using a map was safe while driving.

The survey also found that the No. 1 emotion evoked by seeing another driver texting was concern. No. 2 was irritation.

The difference drivers' confidence in their ability to text and drive versus the probable reality is striking -- and quite possibly dangerous. So, if you're in the habit of texting or undertaking other distracting activities while driving, keep in mind that you're probably not holding yourself to the same standard you use for others. A little humility about our ability to handle distraction could go a long way toward reducing traffic crashes.

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