A new poll shows young drivers are more likely to use cell phones while driving, and that 30 percent of them have recently texted from behind the wheel, transportation officials said on Monday.

The release of the poll came as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called distracted driving a deadly epidemic.

The poll comes from the magazine Consumer Reports, which is working with the Department of Transportation on creating awareness about the dangers of cell phone use while driving.

Among the findings are that 63 percent of respondents under 30-years-old reported using a handheld phone while driving in the past 30 days, the Department of Transportation said.

And 30 percent of the drivers texted from behind the wheel in the same time period according to the survey, which had a total of 1,026 respondents.

Older drivers were less likely to talk on the phone behind the wheel, and only 9 percent of those over 30 years-old reported they had recently texted while driving.

LaHood, appearing at the Yonkers, New York, headquarters of Consumer Reports, said teens are more likely to drive distracted because of peer pressure.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)