Beware of Drivers Who Won’t Put Down the Internet

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    Just in time for the busiest travel season of the year, State Farm has released its annual research report on distracted driving, with troubling results. Though texting while driving remains a concern on the nation’s highways, people are also webbing while driving with increasing frequency. These behaviors may pose equal or greater concerns in the effort to reduce distracted driving.

    The survey of nearly 1000 motorists shines a light on a growing safety concern: people accessing the internet while driving. Four years of data show a significant increase in the use of mobile web services while driving.

    The growing popularity of smart phones is contributing to these escalating numbers. The survey revealed an increase in the percentage of drivers who own mobile web devices, as well as an increase in the number of people who report accessing the internet while driving.

    “The mobile internet is generating another set of distractions for drivers to avoid,” said Justin Tomczak of State Farm. “While the safety community is appropriately working to reduce texting while driving, we must also be concerned about the growing use of multiple mobile web services while driving.”

    While the distracted driving focus has traditionally been on young people, the data indicate that motorists of all ages are using the mobile web while driving.

    • Smart phone ownership is on the rise, and people who report webbing while driving goes down with age.
    • Accessing the internet while on a cell phone increased from 13 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2012.
    • Reading social media networks while driving increased from 9 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2012.
    • Updating social networks while driving increased from 9 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2012.
    • Checking email while driving rose from 32 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2012.

    When asked for their opinion on ways to reduce distracted driving, 72 percent of drivers surveyed strongly agree with laws or regulations prohibiting texting or emailing behind the wheel. However, almost two-thirds believe that laws governing cell phone use while driving are enforced to little or no extent. To a lesser degree, 45 percent were extremely likely to support technology that would prevent texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

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