The National Traffic Safety Administration says texting while driving increased 50 percent in 2010. The agency also found that 18 percent of drivers admitted sending text messages or emails while behind the wheel.
About half of American drivers between 21 and 24 say they've texted or emailed while behind the wheel, and many of them said they don't think it's dangerous when they do it.
The increase came despite a rush by states to ban the practice, including in California. Officials say it's clear that educational messages alone are not changing behavior.
In 2010, there were an estimated 3,092 deaths in crashes affected by a wide range of driver distractions, from eating meals to thumbing email, the safety administration said.
The survey found that most drivers would answer a call while driving, and most would continue to drive while they talk.
The survey included 6,000 drivers ages 18 or older.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.