Americans are using cellphones and other gadgets behind the wheel as much as ever, despite widespread awareness of the risks involved, a federal government agency said Friday.
Citing a 2011 survey, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said 660,000 Americans are talking or texting while driving at any given moment, a number unchanged from the previous year.
At the same time, 74 percent of American drivers support a ban on hand-held cellphone use on the road, and 94 percent favor a prohibition on texting while driving, it said, citing a 2012 survey.
Thirty-nine of the 50 states now ban text messaging behind the wheel, and 10 states forbid heldheld cellphone use — although observers say those bans are frequently ignored.
In a statement Friday coinciding with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called distracted driving “a serious and deadly epidemic” on US roads.