Vlingo Survey Finds That One in Four Cellphone Users Drive While Texting…

avoidtexting Why am I not surprised. This explains all of those terrible drivers. Vlingo released their annual Vlingo Consumer Mobile Messaging Habits Report with some interesting facts. They found that 26% of the 5,000 US users surveyed text while they drive. In Tennessee that number is up to 42%!

The risky part is that a larger majority of younger inexperienced drivers are texting away while behind the wheel. They found that 60% of those ages 16 to 19 and 49% of those 20 to 29 admit to texting while driving. Check out the full report after the jump.

Those are some pretty high statistics. It looks like the growing trend of banning texting while driving is going to continue. Already 7 states have bans in place. This looks like a pretty compelling market for Vlingo’s voice application. On the other hand I think that even that distracts me from driving. Maybe we should limit people to driving while driving. 🙂

So what do you think? Do you text while driving? Do you know if your kids do?

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (May 20, 2009) – Vlingo Corporation, maker of the world’s most popular mobile voice application, today released results from the second annual Vlingo Consumer Mobile Messaging Habits Report. Despite Driving While Texting (DWT) bans in seven states and the District of Columbia as well as reports of accidents caused by DWT, 26% of mobile phone users continue to text behind the wheel. Drivers in Tennessee are the worst offenders, with the highest percentage of respondents (42%) who admit to DWT, while Arizona has the lowest percentage (18.8%). The Vlingo Report also reveals that text messaging has grown steadily over the past 12 months across all age groups, with nearly 60% of mobile phone users now texting, compared to 54% in 2008. The Vlingo Consumer Mobile Messaging Habits Report is based on a survey of nearly 5,000 U.S. consumers and was fielded by independent panel research firm Toluna.

Driving while texting remains steady, consumers agree on need for legislation

One in four of all mobile phone users admit to DWT and it occurs in all age groups. Almost 60% of those ages 16 to 19 admit to DWT and 49% of those 20 to 29 admit to DWT. The percentages get smaller for older respondents, but usage remains high with 13% of those in their 50s admitting to doing so.

Among survey respondents there is general consensus that DWT should be legally banned. Slightly more than 83% of respondents think DWT should be illegal, while only 7% think DWT should be legal, and 10% are undecided. However, with more safety precautions such as hands-free solutions that enable consumers to text without typing, 40% of respondents favor making DWT legal. Additionally, nearly 70% would use voice recognition technology while driving instead of typing if they could speak text or email messages and have incoming messages read to them.

As of May 2009, only seven states and the District of Columbia have laws completely prohibiting any person from sending text messages while operating a vehicle. However, whether a state has a law banning DWT does not seem to correlate to less DWT activity.

– Two of the top five worst offenders (TN, NJ, AL, ID, OK) have some form of DWT/mobile phone ban in place or pending (one of which is focused solely on young drivers).

– Of the five states with the best records (AZ, VT, RI, OH, MI), only Rhode Island has a ban on DWT and it only applies to those under the age of 18.

“In just one year, the public conversation about the issue of DWT has escalated, particularly in the wake of some high-profile accidents,” said Dave Grannan, CEO of Vlingo. “Texting is such an integral component of our daily lives, and the cautionary tales about DWT danger have not stemmed the tide. We predicted last year that this problem would get worse, and it has since more people are texting. The good news is that many state legislatures are starting to take up this issue, and today more advanced technologies exist that can increase safety on the roads.”

Texting on the rise

This year, nearly 60% of mobile phone owners use their phones to text:

  • In 2008, teens and twenty-somethings were by far the largest users of texting, coming in at 85%. In 2009, this continued to be true with teens at 94% and 20-somethings at 87%, but usage also increased for older age groups. Among those in their 40s, usage jumped from 56% to 64%, and for those in their 50s it jumped from 38% to 46%.
  • Texting is also gaining on sending/receiving calls as the primary use of mobile phones, with 35% of all respondents using their phones for texting more than for phone calls. Almost half of respondents do both in equal numbers.
  • The volume of text messages has gone up as well across all age groups, although the 13 to 19 age group remains the most active, sending more than 500 texts per month on average.

High costs, tiny keypads holding back usage

Despite the popularity of mobile data services, of those surveyed, 41% do not text, 70% do not browse the Web, and 73% do not use email on their mobile phones. With 86% of respondents paying their mobile phone bills themselves, a significant percentage cite cost as a barrier to adoption for data services (44% for cite cost as a barrier to adopting text messaging, 59% for Web Browsing, and 53% for mobile email). Among those who do not text message, 27% cite the difficulty of typing on a tiny keyboard as a barrier, while 37% say it takes too much time to type. However, usability enhancements such as voice enablement would increase usage – 74% report that they would use voice enablement as a way to make text messaging easier.


The Vlingo Consumer Mobile Messaging Habits Report was fielded by independent panel research firm Toluna and responses were generated from a survey among 4,816 online opinion panel members (age 13 or older) living in the continental United States. The sample was matched to U.S. Census proportions on gender, age and ethnicity and included approximately 100 respondents from each of the 48 contiguous U.S. states. Respondents were also screened for mobile phone ownership and usage. The survey bears a statistical accuracy of +/- 1.41% for the total sample at the 95% confidence level.

The full report can be requested at http://vlingo.com/habits.

4 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. At least you didn’t wish death on them this time like the people with radar devices.

  2. I disagree with the need for legislation to ban texting while driving (TWD) for the main reason that it punishes those who aren’t a danger and it proposes that one distraction is worse than another (such as eating, changing stations or even talking to a passenger on the phone). Rather, we ought to allow the legal system to treat these distractions as aggrevaters that amplify the charges filed and, upon conviction, penalties levied.
    That said, it is obviously stupid to TWD but we should equally be concerned with all our rights being revoked, I ceertainly wouldn’t want to get in trouble for eating McFries or talking to my passenger. Isn’t it already illegal in some states to talk on a cel while driving?
    It’s a slippery slope.

    • While I agree with the “proposing that one distraction is worse than another” bit I don’t understand the “punishes those who aren’t a danger” bit.

      The whole point is to punish those who are putting others in danger, which inevitably happens when some moron decides to take his/her eye off the road to send some meaningless text.

      Further, there are varying degrees of distractions. People of the road, but when they text, they are often not only removing their eyes from the road, they are also taking their hands off of their steering wheels.

      They are also often not just sending one or two texts per drive.

      Admittedly, I TWD, but I also only drive a bus so I can do that.

  3. I underdtand the intent, but should we as a society punish the potential for danger or actual danger?

    If you’re for the potential, then merely getting behind the wheel of a car is criminal…that’s the slippery slope to wich I previously referred.

    And, yes, I posted on my way to Arby’s for a roast burger, curly fries and a jamocha.
    Choosing the latter, we punish actions actually dangerous such as swerving, crossing the double yellow, etc.

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