Although they know they're engaging in very risky behavior, adults are texting behind the wheel more than ever, according to a recent study by AT&T.

The study surveyed 1,100 adult drivers and found that 49% of them admitted to texting while driving, compared to 43% of teens.

That's a troubling statistic. Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that 98% of respondents said they knew it was a dangerous activity and 60% said they were not doing it 3 years ago. This means that in spite of the well-documented and almost universally recognized risks, adult drivers are still texting and are doing so in dramatically increasing numbers.

"I was a little bit surprised," said Charlene Lake, AT&T's senior vice president-public affairs, according to USA Today. "It was sobering to realize that texting while driving by adults is not only high, it's really gone up in the last three years."

Distracted driving is a major cause of death and injury on the road and texting while driving is one of the worst forms of it. In 2010, 3,267 people died in distracted-driving-related deaths, according to the CDC study, which appeared in its weekly Mortality and Morbidity Report. In 2011, the most recent year for which numbers are available, the number rose to 3,331, a 1.92 percent increase.

Governments have responded to the trend in recent years. Texting while driving has been banned in 39 states and the District of Columbia and drivers caught doing it often face hefty fines. But it doesn't seem to be enough of a deterrent.

What is going on here? Given that clearly almost everyone knows that texting while driving could easily result in a fine or crash causing serious bodily harm or death, why are more and more people doing it?

This is a trend that needs to be reversed. Soon.