A distracted driver is an accident waiting to happen. While it is true that a driver fiddling with the radio is just as dangerous as a driver fiddling with a phone, it is still important to identify the types of distractions that are causing accidents. To that end, the insurance company State Farm has surveyed drivers for a number of years to generate a picture of what distracted driving really looks like. The most recent results show that smart phone based distractions have risen again, for the sixth year in a row, despite publicity campaigns and new laws directed at curbing phone use.
People are not using their cell phones in exactly the same way they were six years ago. The drivers surveyed last year were less likely to be talking on the phone than in previous years. They were equally likely to be texting as in the prior year. Unfortunately, they were much more likely to be accessing the Internet or checking their email than in prior years. In fact, roughly one-quarter of the drivers surveyed admitted to using their phones for the Internet or email while driving.
Safety campaigns that have targeted texting likely did so because the behavior had become so common, particularly among younger people. Texting is no more distracting than checking email or accessing the Internet in terms of the attention it takes away from driving. All three activities are wildly unsafe when conducted by someone operating a motor vehicle. There is no acceptable use of a cell phone by the driver of a vehicle.
Source: USA Today, “Drivers talk on cell phones less but surf, e-mail more,” by Larry Copeland, 18 November 2014