Americans Can't Stay Off the Internet, Even While Driving

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In the truest sign that Americans are a stubborn, unflinching, possibly dangerous people, a survey from State Farm found that 24 percent of Americans browse the Internet while driving — a number that's increased every year for the last five years.

"The percentage of drivers who said they do so nearly doubled, from 13% in 2009 to 24% this year. Among drivers ages 18-29, that number rose from 29% to 49%," USA Today reports. Browsing the Internet can be as simple as checking e-mail, finding directions, or Yelping whether or not the nearby Golden Dragon restaurant will give you stomach nightmares.

State Farm also surveyed the number of drivers who text while driving and found that 35 percent of drivers admitted to texting while driving. Young people are keeping that number as high as it is — almost 70 percent of adults aged 18-29 say they text, and almost 50 percent of people aged 30-39 say they do too. 

What those numbers boil down to is the potential for more distracted drivers on the road despite a national push and awareness campaigns that show the dangers of texting and using your phone (and smartphone) while driving. When you text message, you become distracted and your chances of getting into a crash are doubled, a study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found. And among drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 who were involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of those incidents involved a cell phone, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2011.

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The scariest thing when you think about these statistics is that you may be a fine, rule-abiding driver, but there are definitely people (one in four, actually) sharing the road who are not.

While teens and younger drivers are the worst when it comes to texting while driving, older drivers aren't exactly angels either. The biggest factor in the rise in browsing drivers is the rise of smartphone users. And the biggest jumps in smartphone ownership comes from the older generation: 82 percent of drivers aged 40-49 have smartphones compared to 47 percent in 2011; 64 percent of drivers aged 50-64 do; and 39 percent of drivers older than 65 have smartphones compared just 23 percent in 2011. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.