Distracted Driving Causes Nearly 40% of Accidents
Two studies show driver distraction due to technology is still a key factor in
accidents, although most respondents claim use only in stopped traffic. Regulations and media attention have resulted in reduced technology use while driving.
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As distracted driving laws rise in an increasing number of states, fleet managers should look to the habits of their own drivers. By studying statistics and information about driver tendencies, fleet managers can create stronger policies to reduce distracted driving liability.
In 2010, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company conducted two studies on distracted driving. The data was collected via Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) from sample sizes of about 1,000 drivers. Interviewers adhered to quotas to ensure an accurate representation of male and female adult respondents in each regional sample.
The results were tabulated to replicate actual population distribution by age, gender, education, ethnicity, household size, number of telephone lines, and region, according to the March 2007 U.S. Current Population Survey.
Four in 10 Accidents a Result of Technological Distraction
According to the Nationwide study conducted in July, about four in 10 respondents (38 percent) claim to have been hit or nearly hit as a result of other drivers being distracted by cell phones or other technology. Of respondents claiming to have been hit or nearly hit, a larger percentage were 55 and older. In addition, higher numbers were reported in the South and West than in the East and Midwest.
Claimed Use Rates While Driving are Low
Claimed use rates of cell phone technologies for the majority of people who have access to them are rather low.
When asked about their usage of specific technologies on cell phones while driving, 32 percent of respondents said they used GPS, 21 percent sent text messages, 18 percent received e-mail, and 10 percent sent an e-mail.
An earlier study in May conducted for Nationwide Insurance found that while people have seen fellow drivers texting behind the wheel, eight in 10 drivers claim to have never texted while driving. In fact, less than a handful appear to be avid texters. Ninety-four percent of respondents said they rarely or never texted on a cell phone while driving. This number was characteristically highest among older drivers, with those age 55 and older at 97 percent. In contrast, 53 percent of those under 35 claimed they had never texted while driving.
Of those respondents who have access to the top three most widely used cell phone technologies (e-mail, text, and GPS), most claim to use them while the vehicle was not moving, either at stop lights or in stopped traffic.
However, the percentage of respondents who used these cell phone technologies while moving was still disturbingly high. Overall, about half of respondents admitted to using these technologies on a four-lane highway, while a slightly smaller, although comparable, percentage admitted to using them on a two-lane road.
According to the survey, technology use was lowest while driving in inclement weather. Thirty-eight percent admitted to receiving e-mail, 27 percent to text messaging, and 25 percent to using a GPS device.