Forty percent of Massachusetts drivers say they still send text messages while driving despite a nearly three-year-old law banning such activity and preventing any cell phone use for drivers under 18 years old.
According to a poll conducted in March for the Boston-based insurer Plymouth Rock Assurance, 80 percent of the 500 respondents said they were aware of the 2010 law, but one quarter of the respondents, representing licensed drivers of all ages from across the state, indicated the so-called safe driving law would have no effect on their regular mobile device usage. Only 22 percent say they will abide completely by the law, with 26 percent saying they will completely ignore it, and another 52 percent saying they will only follow the law while actually not in motion. While 96 percent of respondents said they would be unlikely to text and drive with passengers under 13 in the car, female drivers were more likely to have texted while driving than male drivers and drivers between the ages of 17 and 44 were more than twice as likely to have texted behind the wheel as drivers over the age of 45.
Other findings: more than two thirds of respondents had never asked a driver to stop texting while they were a passenger in the car; 87 percent had never attempted to regulate cell phone use on their own devices while driving either manually or by disabling data functionality through the use of an app; and of the 22 percent of respondents who admitted to browsing the web from a device while driving, 77 percent were checking directions, 10 percent had updated a Twitter status and 8 percent were on Facebook.
Bills dealing with texting while driving and hands-free devices are pending on Beacon Hill, but have not yet been scheduled for a public hearing by the Transportation Committee.