Teen drivers text far more than parents believe, study finds

Bloomberg

Teenagers are 26 times more likely to send text messages while driving than their parents expect, based on preliminary results of a safety study by Toyota Motor Corp. and the University of Michigan.

The survey of more than 5,500 people, consisting of drivers aged 16 to 18 and their parents, also found that 69 percent of teens regularly drive with other teenagers and no adults, Toyota said in a statement Tuesday.

“Teens read or send text messages once a trip 26 times more often than their parents think they do,” Toyota said. Some 54 percent of teens surveyed also said they use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.

The study is an effort by Toyota to boost safety following record vehicle recalls in 2009 and 2010 for gas-pedal defects. The carmaker said in January 2011 it would spend $50 million over five years at its technical center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to find ways to reduce auto fatalities.