Distracted driving remains a serious threat to public safety across the United States, despite extensive efforts from federal and state authorities to eradicate this risky driving behavior over the past couple of years.
However, there is a perception today that public awareness about the risks of distracted driving has increased lately, with many surveys showing that the majority of drivers are in favor of laws prohibiting cellphone use while behind the wheel. But despite increasing support for laws against distracted driving, drivers seem to continue to ignore them and engage in distracting activities that raise the risk of crashes.
Increased Cell Phone Use Among Drivers
A recently published study shows that most drivers believe that there should be tougher laws prohibiting cell phone use, and yet they still do it, and as it turns out, more often than they used to.
State Farm, one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, has conducted a survey of approximately 1,000 drivers ages 18 and over, to find out the latest trends in cell phone use by drivers.
The study found that the number of drivers using cell phones for talking while they are behind the wheel has declined, whereas the use of cell phones for other purposes has increased. According to the study, talking on a hand-held cell phone has fallen from 65% in 2009 to 51% in 2015, while texting and driving has increased from 31% to 36% over the same period.
Surfing the Web While Driving on the Rise
In addition to texting and driving, researchers found that drivers increasingly use their phones to access the Internet, as well. In this year’s survey, 29% of respondents said that they use their cell phones for this purpose, as compared to just 13% in 2009.
This rise is attributed to the fact that there is an increasing number of drivers who own smartphones, allowing them to surf the web even while they are behind the wheel. The survey found that 88% of respondents with cell phones own smartphones.
“It’s interesting to observe how the number and types of distractions available on cell phones have grown over the years we have conducted this annual survey,” said Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm. “We want to remind people that despite these and other demands on your attention when driving, please stay 100% focused on your drive.”
Most Drivers Agree with Distracted Driving Laws
Surprisingly, State Farm’s survey also found that drivers are in favor of laws restricting cellphone use, with 84% of those surveyed answering that they agree with the prohibition of cell phones for drivers. This finding contradicts the above-mentioned results that show increased use of cell phones, which suggests that these types of laws and restrictions are not enough to deter drivers from engaging in distracting activities.
In order to curb this risky driving behavior, researchers suggest increased efforts for raising awareness and educating drivers on the dangers of distracted driving, combined with tougher regulation and stricter enforcement.