Survey Reveals Majority of Drivers Still Multitask Behind the Wheel, Despite Knowing the Risks
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Survey Reveals Majority of Drivers Still Multitask Behind the Wheel, Despite Knowing the Risks

The national survey reveals that nearly half (47 percent) of respondents have used their phone while driving on roads or residential streets, 40 percent have used their phones while cruising the highway and 86 percent have used their phone while at a stop light or in heavy traffic.

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A new survey by Kelley Blue Book reveals that 61 percent of drivers continue to multitask from behind the wheel.

The 2016 Kelley Blue Book Distracted Driving Awareness survey is part of the company’s #DriveSmart Distracted Driving Awareness campaign, launched during Distracted Driving Month. The national survey reveals that nearly half (47 percent) of respondents have used their phone while driving on roads or residential streets, 40 percent have used their phones while cruising the highway and 86 percent have used their phone while at a stop light or in heavy traffic. Talking on the phone and using the navigation system were the highest rated activities reported with 78 percent and 71 percent, respectively. Texting came in third with 67 percent, followed by using music apps (47 percent) and social media (31 percent).

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 25 percent of all crashes involve some form of driver distraction, and drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. In fact, nearly three quarters of survey respondents (71 percent) believe that cellphone usage is the biggest threat facing today’s teen drivers, with drinking and driving (18 percent) and reckless driving (10 percent) rating as a distant second and third, respectively.

According to Distraction.gov, the average time a driver takes their eyes off the road while texting is five seconds. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. Millennial drivers report the highest rates of texting (74 percent) and checking social media sites (36 percent) while driving. However, young people are not the only drivers reaching for their phones. The survey reveals that Baby Boomers lead the pack, reporting the highest rate overall of talking on the phone while driving (87 percent), followed by Gen X (83 percent) and Millenials (76 percent).

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“We all know that texting while driving is a serious distraction, but it isn’t the only reason drivers are taking their eyes off the road,” said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “With the increase of in-car technology, there are more distractions vying for a driver’s attention. Whether it is in-dash navigation, music apps or voice command call or text, more and more drivers are multitasking behind the wheel as opposed to focusing on the road.”

In addition to conducting the nationwide survey, Kelley Blue Book, along with NHTSA and The Conor Lynch Foundation, will host a student assembly at Inglewood High School in Los Angeles on April 21st to educate students on the dangers of distracted driving. Professional football player Todd Gurley and local officials will be on hand to bring attention to the issue. At the assembly, the students will be directed to take the “One Text or Call Could Wreck it All” pledge at Distraction.gov.

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“Texting behind the wheel is dangerous, deadly and completely preventable. Help make our roads safe for everyone and save it for when you’re not in the driver seat,” said Chris Murphy, regional administrator for NHTSA. “Working with our safety partners and organizations like Kelley Blue Book, we’re calling on drivers to take the pledge and put their phones down. Our focus is to drive positive behavior change and encourage safe driving habits.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, also has joined the campaign by creating a digital PSA to help spread the message about the dangers of distracted driving. Elliott, a champion NASCAR driver who himself is only 20 years old, is uniquely qualified to share the importance of giving your full attention to driving, helping to ensure everyone’s safety by reminding people to just drive.

  • Texting is Not the Only Distraction: Just over half (51 percent) have engaged in rubbernecking and have seen others doing the same; 50 percent have argued with a passenger and seen others arguing while driving; 36 percent have traveled with an unrestrained pet and have seen others doing this; and one-third (31 percent) tend to children while driving and have seen others doing the same.
  • Hands-Free Option Not Always Used: More than 90 percent of respondents have speakerphone available, but fewer than half (46 percent) regularly use it while driving. Nearly half (49 percent) have Bluetooth built into their vehicles, but only 37 percent regularly use the device while driving.
  • Put Your Phone Away: Twenty-three percent say they always stow their phones to avoid temptation while driving; 44 percent occasionally stow their phones; and 33 percent never do. For those who do stow their phones, 60 percent leave it in their pocket or bag; 49 percent put it in the middle console or compartment; and 15 percent put it in the side door storage.
  • This One’s On You: More than 70 percent say that it is a personal responsibility to curb distracted driving behaviors, with 14 percent putting the responsibility on parents and 6 percent saying that cellphone carriers/manufacturers or law enforcement bear the responsibility.
  • Consequences, Consequences: Of those surveyed, half stated that drivers in violation should be given a traffic citation, followed by 26 percent stating the driver’s license should be suspended and 16 percent stating the driver should be issued a misdemeanor citation.
  • Curbing Bad Driver Behavior: The majority (65 percent) said that an app that makes drivers’ phones inoperable while driving would be the most effective way to change driver behavior, followed by more police intervention and enforcement (41 percent) and stricter laws and legislation (37 percent).

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