This interesting paper was presented at the 23rd Annual Scientific Assembly of EAST. The authors studied attitudes and behaviors regarding texting among college students. They performed an anonymous internet survey of 426 freshmen looking at a number of indicators. The specific items and results are as follows:
- Average age of cell phone use: 14
- Average age of first texting: 15
- 73% have texted while driving but
- 53% do not believe they can safely text while driving and
- 60% feel texting while driving should be illegal
- Only 63% would abide by the law if it were passed
- 92% feel texting is less safe than talking on the cell phone
- 84% have ridden with drivers who text
A lot of psychological subterfuge goes on in the minds of these young adults as they consider whether to text while driving or not. They weigh the use of fear control (rationalization) versus danger control (behavior change), and frequently rationalization wins out as the majority continue to engage in this risky behavior.
Education and awareness are needed to try to change behaviors, but will probably not be sufficient. Another study at this meeting compared cell phone use in two adjacent states, one where it was not legal and the other where it was. Cell phone use in the unrestricted state was over 6% vs 2% in the restricted state. Education programs, coupled with laws making texting illegal are a good combination, but more work will need to be done. Cell phone apps are in development that shut down talk and text functions when they are moving at automobile speeds. More innovative solutions like this will certainly be required.