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Thirty percent of young people text while driving

New poll from Consumer Reports shows that young drivers are more likely to use mobile phones behind the wheel, with 30 percent of them admitting they've recently texted while driving.

Despite all the warnings about using a cell phone behind the wheel, many drivers, especially younger ones, still seem to be clueless about the danger, or willing to risk it anyway.

A majority of 63 percent of people under 30 admitted to using a cell phone while driving in the past 30 days, according to the results of a poll released yesterday by Consumer Reports as part of a story for its April issue. Further, 30 percent of those also said they texted behind the wheel during the same period.

Those numbers compare with 41 percent of those over 30 who said they used a cell phone and 9 percent who admitted to texting while driving.

Among the younger crowd, many also apparently don't see the risks. Only 36 percent of those polled said they were very concerned about the problem of distracted driving, while only 30 percent felt it was dangerous to use a phone behind the wheel.

And acknowledging something that most of them probably see far too often, 64 percent of the people surveyed said they've caught other drivers texting over the past 30 days. And a whopping 94 percent noticed other drivers chatting on a mobile phone, while 58 percent said they had witnessed a dangerous situation related to a distracted driver.

Consumers Union President Jim Guest was joined yesterday by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood at a panel to discuss the findings and the dangers of distracted driving. To combat the problem, the U.S. DOT and Consumer Reports have formed a new partnership designed to educate parents, teachers, and teenagers about the risks of not paying attention behind the wheel.

"Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America's roads, and teens are especially vulnerable because of their inexperience behind the wheel and, often, peer pressure," LaHood said in a statement.

As part of the effort, the two organizations have released a guide called "Distracted Driving Shatters Lives," available at Web pages set up the DOT and Consumer Reports. The two have also released a public service announcement on YouTube, which can be viewed below.

To compile its findings for this latest survey, Consumer Reports polled a total of 1,026 people last November.