Report reveals over 50% of new drivers text and drive

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (September  30, 2010) – Vlingo Corporation, the world’s leading provider of intelligent voice applications that turn your words into actions, today released results from its third annual Vlingo ‘Texting While Driving’ in America Report.  Based on a survey of nearly 5,000 U.S. consumers that was fielded by independent panel research firm Toluna, the study found that while more state laws exist today to ban texting while driving, 35% of mobile phone users continue to text behind the wheel.  This is up from 26% in 2009.

The study also found that young adults aged 20 to 29 years old had the highest percentage (62%) of offenders admitting to texting while driving.  They ranked higher than teenagers aged 16-19 years old (53%), while 50-59 year olds ranked only 17%.  The worst offenders came from Idaho (45% admitting to texting while driving), Kentucky (44%), and Missouri (43%), while New Mexico and Alabama had the next best records with only 22% and 23%, respectively.

“We’ve conducted this survey three years in a row and each year despite the growing awareness of distracted driving, people continue to endanger themselves and their passengers by typing and reading messages behind the wheel.” said Dave Grannan, president and CEO of Vlingo. “It is clear from our survey and a recent report published  by the Highway Loss Data Institute; Texting Laws and Collision Claim Frequencies, that banning texting while driving does not automatically make roads safer; we’re also going to need a technology solution, which is where Vlingo is focused.”

The Vlingo study found that drivers know about safety issues surrounding distracted driving, are interested in curving those habits and are open to technologies that could help them drive safely.  Highlights of the data include:

  • 91% of drivers feel that they are more likely to get into an accident while reading or typing a text message.
  • 90% feel that reading or typing a text message is just as unsafe as not wearing a seatbelt.
  • 44% have been passengers in a vehicle where the driver was reading or typing a text message and 76% of those passengers felt unsafe.
  • 80% are trying to limit the frequency in which they read or type text messages while driving.
  • When asked if drivers would feel safer if they had the ability to speak text messages into their phones without taking their eyes off the road, 67% said yes, 22% said maybe, while 11% said no.

“It’s clear that consumers are still tempted to reach for their cell phone when text messages come through while they are driving,” continued Grannan.  “The good news is today’s technology has advanced to the point where those incoming messages can be automatically read out loud when they arrive and drivers can simply speak to respond to urgent messages while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road—and Vlingo will be making this technology available in the next few weeks for free for certain mobile phones. “

As of September 2010, 30 states and the District of Columbia have banned text messaging for all drivers—including Massachusetts where a ban on TWD goes into effect today—and an additional eight states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers. However, even with laws in place, drivers are still texting while driving (TWD).

  • Among the three states with the worst record of texting while driving, Idaho, (45% of respondents admitting to TWD), Kentucky (44%), and Missouri (43%) only Kentucky has a full ban on TWD.
  • The state with the best record, New Mexico (22%), currently has no TWD law. However, the two states with the next-best records, Alabama (23 %) and Maine (27%) both have partial laws prohibiting TWD.
  • In 2009, 36% of respondents did not know if they lived in a state that had a ban on TWD, but in 2010 that number dropped to 25%.  Still, one third of all mobile phone users admit to texting behind the wheel and the percentages get smaller for older respondents, but usage remains high with 17% of those in their 50s admitting to doing so.

Texting in general:

  • Overall, 66% of mobile phone owners use their phones to text.
  • In 2009, teens and twenty-somethings were by far the largest users of texting, coming in at 85%. In 2010, this continued to be true with teens at 97% and 20-somethings at 93%, but usage also increased for older age groups. Among those in their 30s, usage jumped from 75% to 79%, those in their 40s jumped from 64% to 70%, and for those in their 50s it jumped from 46% to 55%.
  • The volume of text messages has gone up as well across all age groups, although the 13 to 19 age group remains the most active, with 33% sending more than 1000 texts per month on average. Overall, 43% of respondents of all ages send more than 100 texts per month.


The study was commissioned by Vlingo Corporation and fielded by independent panel research firm Toluna during the first quarter of 2010. Responses were generated from a self-administered Web-based survey among 4,800 online opinion panel members (age 13 or older) living in the continental United States. The survey bears a statistical accuracy of +/-1.41% at the 95% confidence level.

The full report can be requested at

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About Vlingo
Vlingo’s intelligent voice applications turn your words into action.  Simply speak to your phone to connect with the people, businesses and activities that are important to you.  Vlingo is the safest and easiest way to get things done while on the go. Send text and email messages, search the web, use Google maps, update Twitter and more. Founded in 2006, Vlingo is backed by Charles River Ventures, Sigma Partners, Yahoo! and AT&T and headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For more information, go to