There’s plenty of
distracted driving going on, especially among young people. A recent poll conducted by the
U.S. Department of Transportation and
Consumer Reports magazine confirms this. People who responded to the poll were asked about
their driving behavior in the previous 30 days, and here are some of their
- 63-percent of people under 30 had used a handheld phone while driving;
- 30-percent of people under 30 had sent text messages while driving;
- 41-percent of people over 30 had used a handheld phone while driving; and
- 9-percent of people over 30 had sent text messages while driving.
The survey was fielded in November 2010, was nationally representative,
and involved 1,026 people responding.
The driving habits themselves were not the only worrisome thing. Only 30-percent
of people under 30 believed it was very dangerous to use a handheld phone
while driving. Only 36-percent in that age group were “very concerned”
about the problem of distracted driving. This suggests that many young
drivers consider it normal behavior and are resigned to it.
If distracted driving becomes accepted, we will all be putting ourselves
at great risk on the road. According to the Department of Transportation,
5,500 deaths and almost half a million injuries related to distracted
driving occurred in 2009. This means 15 deaths, and almost 1,370 injuries,
every day of the year.
Car crashes generally are the leading cause of teen deaths, and with such high rates
of distracted driving, that is unlikely to change any time soon.
The Department is undertaking a campaign to educate parents, teachers,
and teens about the dangers of distracted driving. We hope this will eventually
reduce dangerous habits, just as campaigns about the dangers of drunken
driving have done in the past. In the meantime, we encourage all parents
to be a good example for their children by not texting or using a handheld
phone when they’re behind the wheel.