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Nine out of ten Americans think that texting while driving is dangerous and should be banned, but over half admitted to indulging in the act behind the wheel.

A survey carried out by Harris Interactive found that while 91 per cent of people surveyed said it was as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after a couple of drinks, 57 per cent said they had sent a message while driving.

Despite 89 per cent of the respondents saying they would like to see the practice banned, more than 65 per cent said they had read texts or emails while on the move.

The younger age group are more frequent offenders, with 64 per cent of those who text and drive in the 18 to 34 age group. Only six per cent were aged 55 and older.

The survey, which was commissioned by mobile messaging service Pinger, came after the first ban on texting while driving was introduced in Washington state in May. New York, California, and Florida are said to be currently considering similar legislation.

In Ireland, it has been an offence to use a mobile phone - whether it is texting or talking - behind the wheel since September last year. Offenders may find themselves slapped with two penalty points on their driving licence and a fine of €60. If the matter is brought to the courts, drivers run the risk of four penalty points and a maximum fine of €2,000.

© 2007 ENN

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