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IQ: Study: Increase in Texting and Driving Despite Legal Bans

At any given minute last year, nearly one in every 100 drivers were texting, emailing, surfing the Web or otherwise using a hand-held electronic device—an increase of 50 percent over the previous year, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report also claims that nearly half of all drivers 21 to 24 years old have thumbed through texts and emailed while driving.

Despite a texting ban in 35 states, researchers found that 71 percent of respondents reported answering phone calls while driving; another 41 percent said they make calls while driving. More than half of the drivers surveyed stated that using the phone did not affect their driving—though 90 percent felt unsafe as a passenger while a driver was texting or emailing.

In fact, a large majority of Americans are in favor of the states’ actions. Ninety-four percent of respondents support the banning of texting while driving and 71 percent support banning the use of hand-held cell phones.

Pilot projects in Syracuse, N.Y., and Hartford, Conn., have reduced distracted driving, NHTSA said, attributing the reductions to increased ticketing and high-profile public education campaigns. In Syracuse, hand-held cellphone use and texting declined by one third. Hartford boasted a 57 percent drop in hand-held phone use and a nearly 75 percent decrease in texting behind the wheel.

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