SURVEY SAYS: Do You Text While You Drive?

September 30, 2010 ( – This week I asked readers if they texted while driving – and if so, how regularly. 

While the results were, as usual, illuminating, the verbatim comments were, as usual, entertaining! 

For the very most part, this week’s respondents are not among the text-while-driving type; a full 50.4% said they never did so, while another 26.7% registered an even more emphatic “are you crazy?” (a comment that I am choosing to read as an emphatic “never”, rather than a comment on my personal sanity). 

While that pretty much sums things up, 4.4% said they did so “infrequently”, another 1.1% said they had done so “in emergencies only”, and just under 15% said they had done so “maybe once or twice.”

No one, it should be noted, said they did so “all the time”, and just 3.3% said they did so “more often than I should.”

“Text” Messages

Oh – but since there were a surprising number of verbatims that suggested that some of our non-texter respondents didn’t text at all – or who didn’t drive – or who didn’t have a cellphone – well, perhaps those statistics aren’t quite as compelling as they might otherwise seem.  Samples follow:

I am one of about three people in the world who do not own or use a cell phone.  I don’t even know how to text, much less text while driving.  My life is blissfully simple, and I intend to keep it that way!

I’m showing my age, but I haven’t a clue HOW to text, so I’m certain I’ve never done it while driving… or any other time! 

I belong to an endangered species of people that don’t own a cell phone…

Now, living in a state where such multi-tasking is frowned upon, I also asked readers if they had, in fact, texted and driven in a state/city where it was illegal to do so.  Since our readers are, certainly in large part, a law-abiding crowd, it was no surprise to find that 69% said they had never done so, while 16.1% weighed in with “are you crazy.”   

There were 3.4% who said they did so “infrequently”, 2.3% said “more than I should”, while 8.0% said “maybe once or twice”.  Oh, and the rest (I’ll let you do the math) said they did so “all the time”…in places where it’s illegal. 

All of which means, of course, is that a distinct minority of this week’s respondents were, by my math, slightly more likely to text and drive where it is illegal to do so, than generally.  Or perhaps that those most likely to text also happen to do more driving in states where it is illegal.   

Now, in keeping with the spirit of the results noted above, many of this week’s respondents took the time to weigh in on their distaste for the text-and-driving lifestyle, including the reader who said “Let's bring back the old-fashioned stocks in the public square - 8 hours with your head and arms in stocks if caught texting while driving.”

Now, as colorful as that picture is, here are some of my other favorites:

The first time that I heard that people text while driving was when my 60+ year old co-worker told me that she was texting her daughter on the way to work. She must have good progressive lenses to see both the road and the phone. My self-preservation instinct is too strong for me to try that.

Texting? Remember the soup commercial with the string on a can phone call to the kitchen or the insurance company commercial featuring the guy with brick-sized mobile phone, I'm likely the inspiration. Text, isn't that the written content of a page, script or speech.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, my cell phone is only a phone.  No texting, no internet, no email.  Which means that I actually have a life away from the office.

Okay, I admit to checking Facebook and e-mails, but only while at a complete stop.  That's probably not too smart, either - should be watching the traffic.  My kids will be driving soon, so I'm trying to obey all traffic laws and be a good example.

The number of distracted drivers on the road scares me, so I'm busy paying attention to them. Especially since people who talk on cell phones or text while driving tend to be traffic-law impaired in general! 

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who shared, “A fabulous picture was circulating recently.  It was a church marquee that read:  Honk if you love Jesus, text while driving if you want to meet Him.  Loved it.”

Me too.  Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!  And enjoy the rest of the verbatims on the pages that follow!

At a traffic light or in completely stopped traffic jam, I might peek at my e-mails and reply. 

It just amazes me that using a cell phone or texting while driving isn't yet illegal in every state.  While we wait for the quantitative data to come in, we have all witnessed or been affected by the reckless driving it causes.  Driving requires full-time attention at all times (even at red lights). 

Drivers, especially very young ones, forget that driving is a privilege and should never be abused; not with any sort of distraction - e.g., reading a map while driving, reading anything while driving, talking on cells phones is especially distracting because focus is shifted from defensive driving to My Mind Is Not With Me At This Moment driving, and the person who thinks that he/she can text while driving is obviously crazy.  DRIVING IS A SERIOUS RESPONSIBILITY PEOPLE!  Do they just forget that they can kill others while doing such crazy things while driving?  Or is that what is supposed to happen for their lightbulb to come on?  Get with it, people!

Texting or doing anything else like that while driving is unacceptable.  You are putting your car, yourself and innocent people at risk while driving distracted.

My daily commute is 50 miles each way so I spend a lot of time on the road; more time than necessary many times because of distracted drivers either texting or talking on their cell phones testing the laws of physics, i.e., two objects not being able to occupy the same space at the same time.  I've seen enough accidents, close calls and generally dangerous and discourteous drivers doing idiotic things taking chances with my life as well as theirs that this has become a real hot button issue for me.  Texting and cell phoning should be illegal and a primary offense in all states and anyone caught and convicted should be sent to Iran for a little Shariah justice. And no, I have not committed that particular sin so I will gladly throw the first stone.

I don't even answer my phone when I'm driving. I pull off the road if I can and ignore the darned thing if I can't pull off. Driving in this area is dangerous enough without adding that complication.

The only reason I have texted while driving is to respond to my deaf daughter when she needs something.  Generally, I find a spot (red light, stoppage in traffic or just pull over) when I realize that the conversation may get lengthy.  However, I have been guilty of reading her text while driving and responding with an "OK" or "NO".  Harder for me (and more dangerous) is when she is in the car and expects me to carry on a sign language conversation while I am behind the wheel.

I rarely drive, and don't text at all.  I do respond to e-mails via Blackberry, but only if someone else is at the wheel.


Typically, metro- "freeway fighters" average 40 to 60 miles (one-way) from home to work.  Experience dictates strict roadway standards, for your safety as well as others.  Ask someone who fought the commute battle in Southern California for 20 years, during the fifties, sixties and seventies, "boom".

If I do text while driving it's while sitting at a stop light. 

People who text while driving are extremely selfish.  If you want to kill yourself be my guest just don't take me with you! 

My commute is about a half hour on a moderately busy highway with a speed limit of 55.  I do eat my breakfast (a piece of fruit and a breakfast wrap that doesn't need to be warmed up) and drink my coffee while driving to work.

"I have recently stopped texting while driving. Took a wake up call for me unfortunately, not just a law.  A relative was struck by a driver who was doing so and is seriously and permanently impaired as a result."

Massachusetts has passed a no texting law that goes into effect tomorrow. I try not to text when driving. I know it's not safe.

I'd like to work with the NTSB on a new nationwide campaign - "Hang up and Drive".

I value my life as well as others driving around me to do something as crazy as texting while driving!

As soon as I notice someone on their cell phone or texting - or doing anything distracting such as putting on make-up or reading the paper, I try to immediately get away from them.  They are so distracted, they don't realize when they are veering or getting too close to another car.  It's scary around them. 

"Surveys being notoriously unscientific and often self-serving, I am skeptical.  If accurate, it's may merely be a testament to defensive drivers who can spot a texter a quarter-mile away (accelerating, decelerating, crossing lines, accelerating, crossing lines, decelerating.) 

I may be prejudiced - cut off by a ""texter"" yesterday morning and barely avoiding a collision." 

Using your mobile phone while driving is inappropriate but I do on occasion.  Texting while driving (even at a stop light) is down right dangerous. 

My texting while driving is limited to when I'm at a stop light. Many activities are distracting. Like women who put on makeup while driving. Or parents who attend to kids in the back seat while driving. Or people who get caught up in looking at incidents or wrecks or hot air balloons and forget they're driving. 

Forty years ago I managed without a cell phone. I still manage without one today. Never understood why I would want to be bothered by phone calls (or texts) when I am not at work or at home. 

Concern for "texting" is too narrow.  Any use of cell phone/MP3 players/etc is dangerous. 

I would definitely have an accident.  I get nervous using the speed dial for my (hands free) phone. 

Put the phone in the trunk and you shouldn't have a problem with texting or calls for that matter.   Talking is just as bad as texting.  Just ask Oprah. 

It's definitely distracting. 

I HATE ending up behind someone in traffic who is texting.  I can often tell by their slowness and/or erratic driving.  I doubt my 'glare' as I indignantly pass them does much to motivate them to stop though. 

I don't even like to talk on the phone when I am driving.  If it rings, I let the call go to my voice mail 

I will only text at stoplights, and only if it's important. The number of distracted drivers on the road scares me, so I'm busy paying attention to them. Especially since people who talk on cell phones or text while driving tend to be traffic-law impaired in general! 

Massachusetts has a ban on texting while driving starting on Friday.  So my answer will change from "Never" to "More often than I should" regarding texting where it is illegal on Friday. 

Massachusetts has a ban on texting while driving starting on Friday.  So my answer will change from "Never" to "More often than I should" regarding texting where it is illegal on Friday. 

I love my cell and bluetooth, but I often wish police would OCCASIONALLY enforce the no cell phone rules in some areas.  The rules are useless and I see too many idiots driving poorly while on the phone (present company excluded of course) 

The fines should be sky high to discourage texting or talking on a cell phone.  Make the punishment hurt.

To those who text, do you really need to document every hiccup?  Are other folks interested in your every thought and action?  Really?  I think not.

I have successfully resisted learning how to text.  I hate the thought of having to put on my reading glasses to use my phone.  As for all that button pushing - who needs it?

When I was about 19, not long after I got my first cell phone, I almost caused an accident because I was messing with my cell phone while I was driving and didn't notice the car in front of me had stopped in the middle of the highway.  I had to slam on my brakes and swerve to miss the other car, and my car spun around 180 degrees.  I ended up facing the senior citizens I had nearly slammed into.  After that experience, I will never text while driving.  I try not to even talk on my cell phone while driving unless I'm in an area with very light traffic and I can put the other person on speaker phone.  I figure whoever is trying to call or text me can wait until I can talk to them safely.