WELLINGTON - Two thirds of young people admit taking their eyes off the road to catch up on their text messaging while driving, according to a new survey.
Women's eyes are more likely to stray from road to cellphone than men's and Aucklanders are the biggest drive-time texters while Wellingtonians are the least likely to indulge, the survey by AA Insurance found.
The AA supports a ban on people using hand-held phones while driving. AA Insurance surveyed more than 2500 drivers aged 18 to 75 during February to discover how ingrained the practice has become.
Chief executive Chris Curtin said the results were "quite staggering", especially the number of young people texting.
Texting was not the sole source of distraction identified in the survey.
More than 40 percent said they had talked on their mobile without using a hands-free kit.
In addition to phone use, two thirds said they ate while driving, more than half said they had lost concentration while adjusting the stereo and just under half had been distracted by staring at billboards or other advertising.
"All of these actions reduce concentration on driving - and lack of concentration can and does lead to accidents," Mr Curtin said. In calling for a cellphone ban, the AA cites Land Transport New Zealand figures in January which showed mobile phone distraction contributed to 446 crashes since 1995, claiming 34 lives and injuring 587 people.
In a previous survey 77 percent of AA members supported banning hand-held mobile phones while driving.