Nearly everyone agrees that texting and driving is dangerous, but most people do it anyway.
In a new US survey, 98 per cent of motorists who own mobile phones and text regularly said they were aware of the dangers, yet three-quarters of them admitted to texting while driving, despite laws against it in some states.
Two-thirds said they had read text messages while stopped at a red light or stop sign, while more than a quarter said they had sent texts while driving.
More than a quarter of the texting drivers believed they “can easily do several things at once, even while driving.”
The survey of 1004 US adults was released on Wednesday by US telco AT&T Inc as part of an anti-texting-and-driving campaign.
AT&T designed the survey with David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and a professor at the University of Connecticut’s School of Medicine.
It found a broad range of reasons why drivers text.
Forty-three per cent of the texting drivers said they wanted to “stay connected” to friends, family and work. Nearly a third did it out of habit.
Among other reasons for texting and driving:
* Twenty-eight per cent said they are worried about missing out of something important if they don’t check their phones right away.
* More than a quarter believes that their driving performance is not affected by texting, and just as many people said they believe that others expect them to respond to texts “right away.”
* Just six per cent answered that they are “addicted to texting”, although 14 per cent admitted that they are “anxious” if they don’t respond to a text right away, and 17 per cent feel “a sense of satisfaction” when they can read or respond to a text message.
Greenfield, who studies the effects of digital technology on the brain, likes to call smartphones “the world’s smallest slot machines” because they affect the brain in similar ways that gambling or drugs can.
Dopamine levels increase as you anticipate messages, and that leads to higher levels of pleasure.
Getting desirable messages can increase dopamine levels further.