It’s safe to assume that if you’re reading these words on this particular webpage you enjoy the act of driving. When you’re behind the wheel, that is your sole focus. You are the exception, and two new studies on phone use while driving prove it.

Both the National Safety Council and AT&T have released separate studies that confirm what we’ve suspected: people are using their phones more and more while driving. And because of that, phone use is now a factor in more than one out of four crashes in the U.S.

And this goes way beyond texting.

Here are the salient stats from the study conducted by Braun Research for AT&T about what people do behind the wheel:

  • 61 percent of people text
  • 33 percent use email
  • 28 percent use a web browser
  • 27 percent are on Facebook
  • 27 percent think they can safely shoot video while driving
  • 17 percent take a selfie
  • 14 percent are on Twitter
  • Another 14 percent are on Instagram
  • And 10 percent admit to video chatting

But the absolute best stat: 22 percent of people that access social networks while driving “cite addiction as a reason.” And remember these are the people willing to admit it.

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The NSC study states that 27 percent of all car crashes are now attributable to phone use, and that number has continued to rise for the past three years. But it’s also probably low. The NSC admits in a previous study that crashes involving phone use are notoriously underreported because who’s going to admit they were posting a selfie to Facebook when they plowed into the back end of a Camry?

Forty-six states, along with Washington D.C, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging behind the wheel, while 14 states ban hand-held phone use while driving.

These laws obviously aren’t working. So what’s the solution?

Again, most of us enjoy driving. We find it satisfying or cathartic or as an opportunity to focus on a single task. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that we’re the exception. The majority of the public sees driving as a chore, something to be endured on the way from point A to point B, and these stats bear that out.

As much as we might want people to take personal responsibility, that’s clearly not working. And since people either shun public transportation because they want their own space or aren't living in an area with readily available options beyond a car, self-driving vehicles are at least part of the answer.

If people can't be bothered to stuff their "addiction" away for a drive – and other people's safety – then they're obviously unfit to handle a car. Are autonomous vehicles are the solution? Maybe. Voice controls? Probably not. Something else? I'm all ears.

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Contact the author at damon@jalopnik.com.
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