Texting while driving is up 50%

About 20% of drivers have admitted to texting while behind the wheel, a statistic that is continuing to increase at alarming levels.

The anonymous survey also found that drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 are the most prolific high-speed texters. 50% of that group said they have sent a message while cruising down the street.

The survey, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, was performed last year but was just released. So it’s likely those numbers are even higher.

In addition, based on actual observations from NHTSA officials, the agency believes around 1% of drivers are looking at their mobile phone at any given time.

“What’s clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

There is no shortage of data to suggest that texting while driving leads to more accidents and a stronger likelihood that the driver will break various traffic laws.

It’s become such a focal point among safety experts that 35 states have outlawed texting while driving altogether. Pennsylvania has become the most recent.

The NHTSA found that simply making the practice illegal is not enough to deter drivers, but in select pilot cities where it set up strong enforcement practices, the amount of incidents sharply dropped.

There is simply not enough manpower to have such a presence all around the country, but the agency hopes it can continue to spread the message about how dangerous it is. Nearly 3,100 vehicular deaths in 2010 were blamed on distracted driving.