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Behind the Wheel, Adults Are Bigger Cell Phone Offenders

The dangers of cell phone use in the car have been shown over and over again. In states like Maryland, there have been hundreds of car accidents, thousands in insurance rate increases and, tragically, a number of deaths. Talking and texting while driving have been decried from the White House to the family house.

United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has specifically called out drivers who use mobile devices while driving. More than half of the 50 states have passed laws restricting handheld use in cars. These laws range from very strict to focused, but lenient overall.

More often than not, that focus - if it exists - is fixed upon teenage drivers. It is no surprise that teens text more, even talk more on their phones and the number of car accidents involving teenage drivers seems a good reason to extend that train of thought into cell phone restrictions.

However, in a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project adult drivers were shown to be the heaviest violators of cell phone safety. In their survey, Pew researchers found that 27 percent of those adults who answered had either received or sent a text message while driving. It is also worth noting that, when you remove the number of adults who don't text at all, the number texting behind the wheel is closer to 50 percent.

Compared to this, only 26 percent of drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 reported texting behind the wheel.

As for talking on the phone, which is less restricted, but believed to be nearly as dangerous as texting, 75 percent of adults responded positively. Only about 50 percent of teenagers admitted to talking on the phone in the car.

What does this mean for states looking to cell phone laws? In states like Maryland, it could mean that stricter cell phone laws need to be amended and applied further upwards, beyond teenagers. For other states, it could come in the form of amendments, but it seems unlikely that the idea of a "teenage driving threat" will be left behind anytime soon.

However, as more distraction-related car accidents occur, opinion may begin to turn.

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