In recent years, the dangers of distracted driving have become well known. Public safety campaigns are as likely to address distracted as drunk driving. Even novice drivers are aware of the danger of reading text messages while driving. But a new study shows nearly half of drivers aged 18 to 29 may be surfing the web while driving. How is this possible?
In an online distracted driving survey sponsored by State Farm Insurance Company, respondents were asked about their use of mobile applications while driving between August 2009 and 2010, and July 2011 and 2012. The study found alarming results:
- For drivers age 18 to 29, Internet use while driving increased almost 20 percent between 2009 and 2012, while instances of checking email rose 10 percent
- Of all drivers queried, 72 percent agreed with regulations to prohibit Internet use while driving, but most believed laws were not well enforced
- For all drivers, Internet use while driving rose six percent between 2009 and 2012
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 39 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands currently ban text messaging while driving. Ten states plus these territories ban cell phone use.
The danger of distracted driving is well-known, but advocates disagree on how best to approach this deadly health and safety concern. The growth of smart phone use increases the number of distractions available in highway, marine, rail and aviation settings — any environment where focused attention is needed.
Currently, older drivers are less likely to use social media and the Internet while driving. But will those declines continue as generations raised with mobile social networks age? As we talked about in September, what about the upward trend in on-board computers in automobiles?
Despite the clear danger to safe driving posed by electronic devices, injury and loss of life caused by distracted driving remain a growing concern.