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Wednesday, June 18, 2008
New Survey Reveals That Nearly Three-Quarters of Drivers Admit to Distracted Driving
Yet Almost All Americans Believe They Are Safe Drivers
The second annual Nationwide Insurance DWD (Driving While Distracted) study was recently released. It found that, although 98 percent of Americans claim to be safe drivers, a huge majority also admits to DWD. More than four out of five cell-phone owners admit to talking on their cell phones while driving, and almost three-quarters (72 percent) of all drivers admit to engaging in some form of distracting behavior while driving, from eating to using their cell phone. What's more, nearly 80 percent have been driven in a vehicle by a distracted driver and over 40 percent have been struck or almost struck by another driver who was driving while talking on a cell phone.
Bill Windsor, Associate Vice President of Safety for Nationwide, said, "Our survey shows that four out of five drivers have been both guilty of, and witnesses to, DWD. Clearly, distracted driving has taken over our roadways, and our survey shows that no one is immune - no matter how safe they think they are. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, distracted driving causes 80 percent of all accidents."
The survey found that the pervasiveness of DWD and our societal mindset could be attributed to technology that is available at all times.
Too Much Technology
• Almost half (48 percent) thought that cell phones and other technology use to be the most dangerous distraction.
• Technology availability as the reason DWD is so common today was cited by 35 percent.
• Use of technology reaches beyond speaking on the phone to text messages and e-mail. Almost 40 percent of teen and Generation Y cell phone users admit to texting while driving, which requires greater visual, cognitive and manual attention.
Too Much Pressure
• Nearly two-thirds of drivers who own cell phones said their colleagues, friends and family expect them to be reachable by cell or other electronic communication devices at all times.
• Busy lifestyles and our current societal mindset were cited by 35 percent as the reason why people drive distracted. In particular, multitasking was cited by 22 percent and having too much to do and too little time was cited by 30 percent.
• Beyond multitasking, the survey found DWD is growing in prevalence simply to stay connected socially. Nearly half of teens and Generation Y cited staying connected socially as a reason for driving while distracted.
Windsor continued, "We found Americans think they're safe drivers, even though they admit to driving while distracted. This dangerous false sense of confidence combined with current 'rules' making it socially and professionally unacceptable to not respond immediately to a call or e-mail, have made DWD commonplace, but Americans need to realize that there is no such thing as safe DWD."
Older, But Not Wiser: DWD is a dangerous habit that concerns drivers of all ages. In fact, only three percent of those surveyed felt that the prevalence of DWD was due solely to inexperienced or teen drivers. More than half of all generations (78 percent of Generation Y, 80 percent of Generation X and 65 percent of Baby Boomers) admitted to participating in tasks such as talking on a cell phone or eating. While teenage drivers were slightly less apt to talking on their cell phones while driving at 60 percent, it does not mean that they are immune. In fact, the lower occurrence rate could be attributed to factors such as graduated drivers license laws for teens that ban cell phone use while driving, increased parental control, or the fact that they are just learning and more apt to follow the rules.
Key Findings from the Survey:
Older, But Not Smarter: DWD is a dangerous habit affecting drivers of all ages. In fact, only three percent of those surveyed felt that the prevalence of DWD was due solely to inexperienced or teen drivers. Well above half of all generations (78 percent of Generation Y, 80 percent of Generation X and 65 percent of Baby Boomers) were guilty of participating in tasks such as talking on a cell phone or eating. While teenage drivers were slightly less guilty of talking on their cell phones while driving at 60 percent, it does not mean that they are immune. In fact, the lower occurrence rate could be attributed to factors such as graduated drivers license laws for teens that ban cell phone use while driving, increased parental control, or the fact that they are just learning and more apt to follow the rules.
Accidents Happen: Daydreaming, adjusting music, and use of a cell phone/electronic device made up three of the top four reasons why respondents have to suddenly jam the brakes while driving. Other drivers were named as the other top reason.
Taking the Riskier Road: Overall, more cell phone owners found themselves talking or texting while driving on the highways or through city streets than when they were parked, in traffic or at a light (nearly 50 percent vs. almost 37 percent). However, teens were more likely to talk and text while not driving than their older counterparts.
Curbing Behavior: When asked what would be most successful in preventing cell phone use while driving, respondents were closely split between technology that would automatically prevent devices from working in the car (43 percent) and laws banning the use of cell phones/electronic devices while driving (42 percent). Yet in curbing all distractions, respondents placed more responsibility on actual drivers. The individual driver was named as most responsible for curbing the behavior by 41 percent of respondents.
"When it comes to preventing distracted driving, laws, company policies and education are important," said Windsor. "However, individual Americans – whether we've had our license for four months or four decades – are in the driver's seat when it comes to putting the brakes on DWD."
In concert with its ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the prevalence of DWD, Nationwide will be joining up with the National Safety Council to co-host a DWD Symposium in Washington, D.C., on October 14-15, 2008. At this Symposium, Nationwide and the National Safety Council will assemble thought leaders to consider which distractions pose the greatest threat and how distracted driving can be lessened.
"The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that 115 people are killed in auto accidents each day in the U.S. With distractions being such a large cause of accidents, it's clear that DWD is an issue in our society that needs to be curbed now," commented John Ulczycki, Executive Director of the Transportation Safety Group at the National Safety Council. "We look forward to partnering with Nationwide to help curb this dangerous trend that has taken over our roadways."
For more information on DWD - facts and figures, tips on safe driving and updates on Nationwide's partnership with NASCAR to raise awareness of DWD - please visit www.nationwide.com/dwd.
Online courses are now available to educate drivers on the rules of the road and the latest defensive driving techniques. Try it today!