Forty-one states and Washington, D.C. have a ban on texting while driving. But a new study by the United Services Automobile Association suggests 43 percent of active-duty military service members admit to doing it.
The study targeted 900 active-duty service members from nine communities with a large military presence, including Jacksonville. The study found many of these service members admitted to texting while driving.
The issue hit close to home for Megan Miller, a former member of the U.S. Air Force. She doesn't text and drive, but she said her husband, a service member at NAS Jax, does.
"Every time he comes home and says, 'So and so texted me,' I ask, 'Did you read it while you were driving?' and he says, 'Yes I did,' and I say, 'Shame, do not text and drive please,'" said Miller.
It's an issue the USAA is revealing with the new study. The group interviewed service members across the five service branches. It found:
- Forty-three percent of active-duty service members nationwide admitted to texting while driving.
- In Jacksonville, out of the 100 members interviewed, 39 percent admitted to texting while driving.
- Eighty-seven percent of Jacksonville-area service members surveyed considered texting while driving unsafe, but 26 percent of them said they still do it.
"Service members should be setting an example. Service members are in the public eye," said Jacksonville resident Scott Bennett. "They wear a uniform for a reason."
The USAA said military service members who were deployed are less likely to text and drive.
"Maybe they were forced to focus on driving because they were faced with a life-and-death situation in a hostile environment," said Joel Camarano, USAA assistant vice president of auto underwriting.
Of the Jacksonville members who were surveyed, 68 percent of them said they would likely stop texting while driving if a high-ranking officer or their installation commander told them to stop.
The USAA has sent the study to high-ranking safety officers at each military base. It is hoping it will start a conversation on keeping members from texting while driving.