Despite the known hazardous risks of distracted driving, motorists continue to partake in what could be a potentially deadly activity behind the wheel of a car. In AAA’s 2014 Report to the Legislature, a survey of 1000 New Jersey motorists found that a majority (52%) support the ban on the use of hand-held devices.
AAA found that motorists are changing their behaviors while driving. According to the survey, there has been a reduction (19%) since 2007 in the self-reported use of the devices while driving. And overall, 73% of motorists said that they DID NOT text while driving, up from 67% in 2011. More notable is that young drivers, those between the ages of 18 to 29 years old, had a 20% drop of those who admitted to texting or emailing while driving. “These results are encouraging,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers are realizing the deadly consequences of using a phone while operating a car and are changing their behaviors for the better by putting the phones down.”
Although more motorists report that they don’t use handheld devices while driving, there is still a perception that other drivers are less able to manage texting while driving than the survey respondents.
Thirty-one percent of drivers believe they are not distracted while talking on their cell phone and driving, but 82% believe that others are distracted while doing the same thing. An overwhelming majority believes that texting while driving is distracting; with only 3% reporting they are not distracted when texting while driving, and 95% of motorists believing that others are distracted.
The good news on both counts – 46% of respondents said they did not use a cell phone while driving.
While texting or emailing while driving topped the list when it came to rating distractions, other technology was perceived as less distracting.
With advanced technology entering our vehicles daily, it’s important that drivers understand the impact of cognitive distractions. Recent studies have shown that talking on a cell phone while driving reduces the brain activity associated with driving by 37%, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Technologies in the car, such as infotainment systems, pose amplified dangers as they create yet another diversion taking the driver’s focus away from the roads.
As support for the hand-held ban continues to grow, it’s time that New Jersey investigate all-encompassing distracted driving legislation. It’s clear from this survey that some of the behaviors motorists feel are most dangerous have nothing to do with cell phones, yet those behaviors are not regulated behind the wheel.
“A distraction ban would allow law enforcement to have the tools they need to stop dangerous drivers,” Noble said. “An all-encompassing ban would also address new and emerging technologies that prove dangerous, rather than needing technology-specific legislation.” [TLS]