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Thursday, February 01, 2007
New Survey Shows Multi-Tasking While Driving a Big Problem
According to a survey released in January 2007, 81 percent of Americans do more than drive when they're behind the wheel.
In the survey, conducted by Nationwide Mutual Insurance, 80 percent of those surveyed said they adjust the radio or music while they drive, while 73 percent talk on the phone, 68 percent eat, 19 percent send text messages and 5 percent check their e-mail.
Personal hygiene was also a big driver distraction, with 19 percent fixing their hair, 12 percent putting on makeup and 2 percent shaving while at the controls of a car.
"Clearly Americans have much to do and little time to do it, so to cope with that we've become multi-taskers," said Bill Windsor, associate vice president of Safety at Nationwide. "The problem with that is driving requires focus, and multi-tasking while driving puts you and your fellow drivers at risk."
Drivers surveyed also confessed to changing seats with passengers, watching a movie, painting their toenails, nursing a baby and putting in contact lenses while driving.
The survey found that younger drivers multi-task the most, with 35 percent of 18-to-27 year olds reporting they always multi-task in the car, compared to 21 percent of baby boomers.
According to Windsor, for young drivers, the consequences of multi-taking are severe. Auto accidents are the number-one cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 27.
"The bottom line is if it can be done in the kitchen, bathroom, office or bedroom, it should not be done in the car," Windsor said.
While some states require hands-free devices for cell phone use in cars, most of the distractions listed in the survey are not illegal unless they are determined to be the cause of an accident.
The survey of 1,200 drivers between the ages of 18 and 60 found that while 83 percent feel that they are safe drivers, 38 percent acknowledged having driven a certain distance without any recollection of doing so.
According to Sandra Guile, spokeswoman for AAA in Cincinnati, the automobile club's driving instructors have seen it all, and work hard to try to correct the bad habits.
Guile said, "Imagine if you're going 55 miles an hour down the road and you spill something on your suit and you have a meeting that day—you're going to be more worried about grabbing a napkin than watching the road, but it just takes a split second to look away and there's an accident."
Cincinnati professor Penny Braboy never eats or makes phone calls while driving, but she will answer the phone if it rings—and admits to other distractions.
"I have put on lipstick in the car," Braboy, 55, laughed. "And I might try to look for something in my purse, which I know is dangerous."
But she said, "I try to be careful," adding that her distractions have never caused an accident.
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