Your Clients’ Cell phone Behaviors While Driving [Study]

Most people know by now that one of the most distracting and dangerous things that you can do while behind the wheel of an automobile is to use your cell phone, be it for texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, or simply switching songs on your Pandora. With the amount of awareness and knowledge that we all have, one might think that the numbers of people who engage in cell phone activity while driving is dwindling.

Not the case.

According to a new study from State Farm, a firm majority of drivers admit that they use their cell phone while driving in spite of knowing that it’s harmful. Additionally, motorists are getting more crafty regarding how they go about it.

The study shows that 63 percent of drivers are likely to use their phones while stopped at a traffic light. Thirty percent admitted that they will use their phones on the open highway. While this hardly makes it safer, the study participants did show there was a point where the danger outweighed the temptation and they were less likely to use their phones in these situations.

  • Dark outside — 75 percent
  • Fog — 91 percent
  • Snow — 92 percent
  • Icy — 93 percent
  • Heavy traffic — 78 percent
  • Construction zone — 87 percent
  • Rain — 88 percent
  • School zone — 83 percent

“It’s interesting to see that many drivers report assessing driving conditions when they make choices regarding using their cell phones,” said Chris Mullen, director of Technology Research at State Farm. “However, we want to remind people that there are demands on their attention when driving whether moving or not, and to please stay 100 percent focused on their drive.”

The trends have been ongoing over a six-year period for State Farm and here are some of the additional findings revealed along the way:

  • There has been a steady reduction in the number of drivers talking on a hand-held cell phone.
  • The number of people who report texting while driving has remained stable over six years.
  • Smartphone ownership is growing. In 2011, 52 percent of drivers reported owning a smart phone, and by 2014 that number grew to 80 percent. We see the greatest increases in smart phone ownership among adults age 40 and older.
  • Smartphones create new distractions. There is a significant increase over six years in drivers using their phones for: accessing the Internet, reading email, responding to email, programming and listening to a navigation system and reading social media.
  • Drivers are more likely to talk on a hand-held phone than they are to text message while driving. Both of these activities are the greatest for drivers ages 18-29 and decreased as the age of drivers increased.
  • There has been an increase in the percentage of drivers who say they talk on a hands-free cell phone while driving. This is possibly due to advances in hands-free technology and enactment of laws restricting hand-held use.

“These six-year trends make it apparent that smart phones have created many new distractions for drivers to juggle,” Mullen said. “While much attention is paid to the dangers of talking and texting while driving, it’s critical that we also address the increasing use of other smart phone features and other sources of distraction.”

(Hat tip to Claims Journal for the roundup.)

 

In Summary

While on the one hand, it’s good to see that many drivers are increasingly aware of the dangers of driving while using cell phone technology, it’s conversely unsettling that they continue to engage in the activity in spite of the fact that they’re putting others at risk. As an agent, it helps to know what your clients are thinking when they go out on the road. While you cannot make them drive responsibly, you can pass along the information above and highlight the risks and the fallout of distracted driving.

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