A new distracted driving survey from the Automobile Club of Southern California shows 10 percent of adult drivers say they always or frequently use their smartphone while driving, even though it is against the law. The new study also finds drivers who are significantly more likely to drive ‘intexticated’ are between 25 to 39 years old and/or those who send and receive more than 50 text messages per day on their smartphones.
The Auto Club survey, conducted in February with more than 400 Southern California drivers, also revealed:
- Nearly half (46 percent) of those who admit to driving ‘intexticated’ do so for navigation.
- Other popular reasons cited for using smartphones behind the wheel included searching for audio or music, believing that someone required a quick response, and feeling more productive.
- Ten percent of those surveyed say they have been involved in a crash in the last five years in which they believe distraction played a role.
- Drivers surveyed said they were most likely to drive while ‘intexticated’ when they were alone in the car.
- 46 percent admit to driving ‘intexticated’ at least once.
The survey is part of the Auto Club’s “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” initiative.
“The good news is that a year into our anti-distracted driving initiative, we are raising awareness. Our latest survey shows 83 percent of drivers agree the dangers of using your smartphone for texting, emailing, and navigation can be as serious as drinking and driving,” said John Boyle, Auto Club President and CEO. “The bad news is that too many drivers are still putting safety at risk by using smartphones behind the wheel. However, we are committed to reducing needless deaths and injuries by increasing the social stigma of texting while driving.”
The Auto Club joined today with California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, the Los Angeles Police Department and California Highway Patrol in using National Distracted Driving Awareness Month to help reduce ‘intexticated’ crashes by persuading drivers to change their attitudes and behaviors.
“Just a few seconds of distracted driving can cause a lifetime of suffering and regret,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “We all have the power to make our streets and highways safer by making the choice to keep our eyes on the road and off of the phone. Join me in making the choice to do the right thing.”
The Auto Club’s initiative includes public service announcements (PSAs) and a display featuring two crash-damaged cars – one caused by intoxicated driving, one by ‘intexticated’ driving. It asks, “Can you tell the difference?” The goal is to remind drivers that the consequences of both alcohol-impaired driving and smartphone use behind the wheel could be the same – crashes that result in deaths and injuries.
Auto Club member DeeDee Gonzalez is one of the nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. who are injured or killed each year by distracted drivers. In 2017, she was riding her motorcycle in Rancho Palos Verdes when a driver hit her head-on while he was looking at his smartphone. She was thrown from her bike, sustained multiple traumatic injuries, and could not walk for months after the crash. She will need some form of physical therapy for the rest of her life.
“I have to live with the fact that this person’s phone was more important than my life and it’s a lousy feeling that whatever he was doing on his phone was more important than my safety,” said Gonzalez. “You wouldn’t drive intoxicated so don’t drive intexticated. When that (Auto Club PSA) came out last year I said yes, it is as bad as drinking and driving.”
Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities behind speeding and driving under the influence. And these numbers likely underestimate the problem because most drivers do not admit to distracting cell phone use after a crash.
“Driving is a complex task, requiring a motorist’s full attention. Studies show that texting on a cell phone is by far the most hazardous distraction. Texting and driving ruins lives, put your phone down and save a life,” said Chief Mark Garrett, CHP Southern Division Commander.
The Auto Club encourages all Southern Californians to eliminate distracted driving by following these tips:
- Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
- Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
- Pull over. If you have to call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
- Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
- Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
- Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
- Everyone should prevent being intexticated. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.