Nearly seven in 10 young drivers are still texting behind the wheel, and a growing number of them are accessing the Internet on their cellphones while driving, according to a new survey by insurer State Farm. Despite years-long national campaigns against texting while driving, which is now illegal in 39 states and the District of Columbia, 68 percent of young drivers — those 18-29 — reported engaging in the practice, up from 64 percent last year. That compares with 34 percent of all drivers who reported texting while driving, up from 32 percent a year ago.
There were even sharper increases in the equally risky behavior of surfing the Internet while driving: 48 percent of young drivers reported accessing the Web behind the wheel, up from 43 percent last year. Those figures exclude programming a GPS device.
The nation’s anti-texting campaigns may need to include warnings about surfing while driving, said Chris Mullen, State Farm’s director of technology research. “The evolution of the technology — and the speed at which it’s changing — requires us to continually change our messaging to make sure it’s relevant,” she said. Since 2009, State Farm has conducted an annual online survey of about 1,000 licensed drivers 18 and older to study drivers’ attitudes and behaviors regarding distracted driving.
The Department of Transportation said that 3,092 people were killed and an additional 416,000 were injured in distracted crashes in 2010; 18 percent of all injury crashes that year involved a distracted driver. Whatever the safety messages, many drivers apparently believe they can safely text and surf while driving.
Patrick Mayer, 35, a technology consultant in Marietta, Ga., who logs about 20,000 miles a year, said he regularly surfs the Internet and texts while his vehicle is moving. “I do it (surf) if I have to look up something,” he said. “I usually do it at the stoplight or on the highway, usually not on surface streets. I’ve done it everywhere, dirt roads, wherever I need to look up information.” Mayer said he knows that it is risky.
THIS IS BECOMING AN EPIDEMIC. AS A PHOENIX CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER, THERE ARE COUNTLESS WAYS I'VE SEEN ACCIDENTS OCCUR. USING YOUR CELLPHONE WHILE DRIVING IS A RISING ISSUE. THE YOUNGEST AND LEAST EXPERIENCED DRIVERS ON THE ROAD, ENGAGING IN BEHAVIOR THAT IS ABOUT AS MUCH OF A DISTRACTION AS HAS EVER ATTEMPTED A DRIVER BEHIND THE WHEEL OF AN AUTO.
THESE YOUNG KIDS JUST DON’T SEEM TO GET IT. NOT SURPRISING. THEY ARE TOO YOUNG TO GET IT. THEY HAVE GROWN UP WITH THE TECHNOLOGY—THAT CAME FIRST. NOW YOU ADD THE “DRIVING THING” IN AND IT IS A RECIPE FOR DISASTER.
THE STATE OF AZ SHOULD STEP IN HERE AND PASS A LAW TO BAN ANYTHING BUT HANDS-FREE DEVICES WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE.
LIKELY? NO. IN FACT, THE AZ LEGISLATURE REJECTED SUCH A MEASURE LAST YEAR.
MY ADVICE: STAY VIGILANT. YOU CANNOT COUNT ON OTHER DRIVERS TO DO THE SAME.