Study says adults just as guilty of texting while driving as teenagers

When you think of those who regularly text while they are behind the wheel, you might think that the overwhelming majority of them are teenagers who cannot resist communicating his or her latest status to a friend, despite the dangers of doing so. However, according to a recent survey, the next time you see a person texting on the road, it will likely be an adult.

For the survey, AT&T asked the texting habits of 1,011 adult drivers. Out of the adult drivers surveyed, almost half of them admitted to texting while driving, compared with only 43 percent of teenagers.

The survey suggested that when it comes to being addicted to up-to-the-minute status updates, adults are just as guilty as teenagers. Out of the adults who said that they texted while behind the wheel, 98 percent said that they knew it was wrong. Additionally, the study found that texting among adults is a new phenomenon. Sixty percent of adults who admitted to texting said that they did not do it three years ago.

Nationwide, texting is a major problem, according to a separate study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC study found that 31 percent of drivers across the nation admitted to texting or e-mailing while operating a motor vehicle.

The prevalence of texting while behind the wheel and other forms of distracted driving is responsible for an average of nine deaths per day. The problem is likely growing, as 3,331 people were killed in car accidents caused by distracted driving in 2011, which are the latest statistics available, according to the CDC. This is an increase from 3,267 deaths in 2010.

New Jersey reacts

Because of the inherent danger that texting while driving poses, New Jersey has banned texting and the use of handheld cellphones while driving. Additionally, the New Jersey Legislature is considering a bill that would increase the penalties for doing either while operating a motor vehicle, particularly for repeat offenders.

The bill would increase the penalties for first-time offenders from $100 to a minimum of $200-up to a maximum of $400. Second-time offenders could be fined between $400 and $600. Third and subsequent offenses would receive a fine of $600 to $800.

In addition to the increased fines, third and subsequent offenders would also be assessed points against their licenses. Also, a judge would have the discretion to suspend the offender's license for 90 days.

In addition to the fines and penalties, distracted drivers who injure others can face a civil lawsuit for their negligence behind the wheel. If a careless or inattentive driver has injured you or a loved one, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your right to compensation.