A new survey shows that drivers who use cell phones while on the road are more likely to engage in additional dangerous behaviors such as speeding, driving while drowsy, driving without a seatbelt and sending texts or emails.
The survey, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, also found that 69 percent of drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the last month — despite the fact that nearly nine-in-ten respondents believe other drivers using cell phones are a threat to their personal safety.
Officials with AAA said the “Do As I Say, Not as I Do” disconnect was widespread among distracted drivers.
“Ninety percent of respondents believe that distracted driving is a somewhat or much bigger problem today than it was three years ago, yet they themselves continue to engage in the same activities,” said Peter Kissinger, president/CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “More work clearly is needed to educate motorists on the risks associated with using a cell phone while driving, especially given that most Americans believe this problem is becoming worse.”
Driving while talking on a cell phone is against the law in Washington state, and has been since 2007. Talking or sending a text message while holding a wireless device carries a $124 fine. Washington officials also note that a driver who is talking on a cell phone is as impaired as someone who is driving with a .08 blood-alcohol level; a texting driver is as impaired as a driver with a .16 blood-alcohol level.
According to the AAA survey, 61 percent of young drivers ages 16 to 24 reported having read a text or email while driving in the past month, while more than one-in-four (26 percent) reported checking or updating social media while driving.
The survey also found that drivers who used their cell phones over the last month also reported that they engaged in additional risky behaviors while behind the wheel.
The research said:
65 percent also reported speeding;
44 percent also reported driving while drowsy;
53 percent also reported sending a text or email; and
29 percent also drove without a seatbelt.
“What concerns AAA is this pattern of risky behavior that even goes beyond cell phone use,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA vice president of public affairs. “These same cell phone-using drivers clearly understand the risk of distraction, yet are still likely to engage in a wide range of dangerous driving activities.”
Drivers who use cell phones have slower reaction times than other drivers, and experts estimate that cell-phone use roughly quadruples the risk of a crash.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people are killed and nearly half a million are injured each year in crashes involving distraction.
The distraction data were collected as part of the AAA Foundation’s 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally representative, probability-based survey of 3,896 U.S. residents ages 16 and older.