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Despite a growing body of evidence suggesting the practice is responsible for thousands of fatalities each year – along with inflated car insurance rates – texting while driving is still all too common among American motorists, according to a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council.

Surprisingly, the age group most likely to be endangering themselves and others by texting and driving is not teenagers, the study found. Rather, those between 25 and 39 years of age were the worst offenders, with 41 percent reporting they had used a cellphone to send or receive texts while driving in the 30 days before the survey.

Older Americans were far less likely to text and drive, the study found, with just 5 percent of those aged 55 and up saying they had done so. Roughly a third of 16-24-year-olds said they engaged in the practice, the IRC said.

The group's senior vice president, Elizabeth Sprinkel, expressed dismay at the survey's findings.

"These findings confirm that a large number of drivers are engaging in very dangerous behavior. The need to find an effective response to this behavior is becoming increasingly clear," she said.

The IRC asserted that government statistics confirm the serious nature of the threat posed by distracted driving. The group cited a study from the Department of Transportation, which said texting while driving and other types of inattention were responsible for more than 5,000 deaths in 2009 alone.

Experts say there is no excuse for a lack of concentration behind the wheel. Drivers who don't pay sufficient attention to the road ahead take the same risk as a drunk driver, and endanger both their own safety and that of others.