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Development & Transportation

Survey Details All Manner of Distracted Driving

A recent survey by Erie Insurance found that drivers are doing everything from playing the guitar to public displays of affection while driving.

The survey asked about 1,900 people what kind of distractions they found other drivers doing, and what behaviors they were engaging in themselves.

It found that 30 percent admitted to texting, while 75 percent said they saw others doing it; 15 percent of people admitted to reading while 52 percent said they had seen other drivers reading. This was the case for almost all categories, that people were less likely to admit to engaging in distracted behaviors, and more likely to admit to seeing others doing it.

“What probably is occurring is that people are doing distracted driving themselves, but they don’t necessarily recognize it as distracted driving when they’re doing it themselves,” said Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance. “I think the message we want to get it out is that people need to take a break, realize that what other people are doing, they’re probably doing themselves.”

In 2012, police data showed that in the U.S. 420,000 crashes were caused by distracted driving resulting in about 3,000 deaths.

According to the insurer, the most deadly type of distracted driving is daydreaming. Smith suggests that drivers turn off automated features such as cruise control, and pay attention to mile markers to keep your mind on the road.

Another deadly distraction is texting. Despite recent campaigns such as “Stop the texts. Stop the wrecks,” younger people ages 18-34 admitted to doing it more at 51 percent. On the other hand only 7 percent of those 65 and up admitted to it. The survey also found that men are 4 percent more likely to text behind the wheel than women.

“We need to invest in technology in cars that allow people to perhaps text through voice chat etc., and have the car text on their behalf. [That] will probably allow people to get what they want, which is the opportunity to connect with others while driving, but at the same time reduce the dangerous aspects of it,” said Smith.