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More Drivers Using Smart Phones While Driving

State Farm released its yearly report on distracted driving this week. The report compiles information about dangerous driving behaviors that may contribute to serious car accidents. The report identified a growing tendency among drivers to use cell phones to access the internet while behind the wheel. The increase may be related to a sharp increase in the percentage of older drivers who own cell phones. Smart phones are now the norm for drivers in every age group under 65.

Drivers were surveyed about distracted driving behaviors, including texting, talking on the cell phone, reaching for an object, dealing with children in the back seat and riding with a pet in their laps. Sending a text was regarded as the most distracting action with 76 percent of survey respondents calling it very distracting and an additional 14 percent calling it somewhat distracting. Drivers were also asked their opinion about ways to improve driver focus. Nearly three-quarters agreed with laws against texting or emailing while driving. At the same time, more than 50 percent said the laws against using cell phones while driving are not enforced to a significant level.

Distracted driving has been called an epidemic by U.S. safety officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that distracted driving led to 3,328 traffic fatalities in 2012. Safety experts are searching for ways to combat distracted driving even as smart phone ownership levels rise.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Older Drivers Catching Up with Younger in Distracted Driving: Survey," 12 November 2013

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