Survey: 3 in 4 drivers admit texting behind the wheel

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COLUMBIA - A new survey released Wednesday found three-in-four people admitted to at least glancing at their phones while behind the wheel.

A telephone survey of 1,004 U.S. adults was conducted to study texting and driving habits. The survey was designed by AT&T and Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at The University of Connecticut School of Medicine. 

The survey also found that 98 percent of drivers who own cell phones and text regularly said they are aware of the dangers, yet three-quarters of them admit to texting and driving. 

"We compulsively check our phones because every time we get an update through text, email or social media, we experience an elevation of dopamine, which is a neurochemical in the brain that makes us feel happy," Dr. Greenfield said in a news release. "If that desire for a dopamine fix leads us to check our phones while we're driving, a simple text can turn deadly."

While 98 percent of people said they know texting and driving is dangerous, many rationalize their texting-and-driving behavior, which is a classic sign of addiction, according to Dr. Greenfield.

To help cut down on texting and driving, AT&T released a free app called DriveMode, now available for iPhone, that silences incoming text message alerts. The app turns on automatically when one starts moving at a set MPH or more and turns off shortly after one stops. When activated, it automatically responds to incoming SMS and MMS text messages so the sender knows the text recipient is driving. It also allows parents with young drivers to receive a text message if the app is turned off.

The study was part of a campaign called "It Can Wait". According to AT&T the campaign has inspired more than 5 million pledges to never text and drive and more than 1.8 million downloads of the Android and Blackberry versions of the DriveMode app.

Other Wireless Carriers have also created applications to help with the issue.  

According to Verison Wireless, "Live2Txt" is an Android app that gives the option to silence texts and calls or block them while behind the wheel.

"DriveOFF" also for Android devices displays a static screen saver and turns off all notifications on the phone once the device hits 10 mph.

"DriveScribe" available for Android and iOS, automatically sends a response to text messages, alerting your contacts that a driver is unreachable at the moment. "DriveScribe" tracks speed and driving behavior, offering tips for improvement. With this app, the safer someone drives, the more rewards points someone can earn that are redeemable for gift cards at select retail stores.

"Canary" is an option for parents. Available for Android and iOS, it offers instant feedback on a child's behavior while behind the wheel. It alerts parents when their children are driving 12 mph or faster,driving over the posted speed limit, traveling outside of predefined safe areas, and violating curfew.

Sprint also offers a free "Drive First" app that sends calls to voicemail and silences email and text alerts when a vehicle reaches 10 mph. Exit and 911 emergency buttons on the home screen of a locked device allow users to override the app. 

Researchers conducted surveys on cell phones, so it is possible that someone that would have picked up on a land line may have answered differently. 

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