A study that questioned 5500 drivers across five European countries found that 48 percent of them had texted while driving. Compare that study to a similar one done in the United States and one thing is clear: it's almost exactly the same proportion of drivers as in the United States.
The study, commissioned by the Ford Motor Company, found that 48 percent of respondents had read or sent a text while driving a car. This is despite a widespread belief that texting while driving is detrimental: more than half of the study respondents said they believed that a driver's response times were at least 50 percent longer when he/she is texting.
The biggest culprits of driver multitasking were Italian drivers: 61 percent of Italian respondents said they had texted while driving, while 33 percent of U.K. drivers said the same, making them seem to be the most prudent drivers of the bunch. 55 percent of Russians, 49 percent of French, and 40 percent of Spanish respondents confessed to texting while behind the wheel.
Compare this to a study done in 2010 by the Pew Research Center, and it looks like texting while driving is not exclusively an American issue. In the 2010 study, 47 percent of adult respondents indicated that they had texted while driving, almost exactly in line with the Ford study. American drivers multitask more than Spanish and British drivers, but are likely out-texted by French, Russian, and Italian drivers. Whether or not this should be worn as a point of national pride is beyond us.
Ford's study was commissioned to mark the sale of the first European Ford models equipped with Sync technology. The tech, which has been in American-market vehicles for some years now, has the ability to read text messages aloud and let the driver respond with one of a few canned replies. Despite the appearance that Sync was in danger of being outlawed by American regulation, the technology is probably safe from legislation now, and marginally safer than letting a driver drive and text using a handheld mobile phone.
Sources: Ford, Pew Research Center