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Mar/Apr 2013 Issue

Cell phone users more likely to speed and drive drowsy, AAA study discovers

Motorists who use cell phones while driving are more likely to engage in additional dangerous behaviors such as speeding, driving drowsy, driving without a seatbelt, and sending texts or e-mails, according to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Distracted driving remains a significant and high-profile traffic safety concern, with cell phone use and text messaging among its most visible manifestations. While 89 percent of respondents believe other drivers using cell phones are a threat to their personal safety, the study found that 69 percent of licensed drivers reported talking on a cell phone while driving within the last month, demonstrating a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.

“Ninety percent of respondents believe that distracted driving is a somewhat or much bigger problem today than it was three years ago, yet they themselves continue to engage in the same activities,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “More work clearly is needed to educate motorists on the risks associated with using a cell phone while driving, especially given that most Americans believe this problem is becoming worse.”

Motorists who fairly often or regularly used their cell phones behind the wheel over the last month also reported that they engaged in additional risky behaviors. The research shows:

  • 65 percent also reported speeding, compared to 31 percent for drivers who never use a cell phone
  • 44 percent reported driving while drowsy, compared to 14 percent for non-users
  • 53 percent also reported sending a text or e-mail versus 3 percent for non-users
  • 29 percent drove without a seatbelt, compared to 16 percent for non-users

Despite the near-universal disapproval (95 percent) of texting and e-mailing while driving, 27 percent of drivers reported sending a text or e-mail at least once in the past 30 days, and 35 percent said they read a text or e-mail while driving. Young drivers age 16–24 were even more likely, with 61 percent reporting having read a text or e-mail while driving in the past month, while more than one in four (26 percent) reported checking or updating social media while driving.

“These same cell phone-using drivers clearly understand the risk of distraction, yet are still likely to engage in a wide range of dangerous driving activities,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA vice president of public affairs.

Driver use of cell phones impairs reaction times and roughly quadruples crash risk. Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 3,000 people are killed and nearly half a million are injured each year in crashes involving distraction. This is likely an underestimate given the challenges associated with determining the role of distraction in crashes.

AAA recommends that motorists turn off their phone before driving or pull over to a safe place to talk, send texts or use e-mail.

AAA deters car theft with VIN etching

As an effective theft deterrent, the Club will offer window etching of your vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number) at several AAA offices this spring.

The cost for the service is $30 for AAA members and $40 for non-members, including six etchings per car. AAA offers discounts on auto insurance for VIN Etching. To make appointments, call 1-800-AAA-ROAD ext. 6821 (with your VIN number handy) at least 48 hours before the below dates.

View dates and locations

Drivers who use cell phones while driving are more risk-prone than other motorists, the AAA study found.

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