It’s no secret that cellphones are the biggest distraction confronting drivers these days. But just how many drivers are taking their eyes off the road to check a text or scan social media? More than you’d think, it turns out.
A recent survey of Philadelphia drivers found that a staggering 75 percent of them use cellphones while driving – and not just for navigating or talking on the phone. The survey focused on the behaviors that are most distracting, like reading texts, browsing emails and checking social media.
Who’s most likely to be glued to a phone?
The results broke down somewhat predictably by generation. Among millennials, more than 90 percent reported engaging in texting, reading emails or scanning social media behind the wheel. Nearly 80 percent of Gen Xers admitted to doing so. And among the most responsible (and, perhaps, technology-averse) crowd – baby boomers – 64 percent were still culpable.
Granted, the survey isn’t as authoritative as a meticulously researched study. The 435 respondents represent only a tiny slice of the driving population. But the proposition that distracted driving is a problem – and one of epidemic proportions – is beyond dispute.
What are the strongest deterrents?
The next question then becomes: How do we prevent drivers from engaging in these dangerous and potentially deadly behaviors? The survey addressed this question as well.
Various technologies are available to help curb distracted driving. Most cellphones come with a “do not disturb” feature designed for use behind the wheel. Yet less than 10 percent of the survey respondents reported using that feature (or similar apps), making it the least-effective deterrent.
The survey also found that legislation is a weak deterrent. The threat of getting a ticket – if caught – isn’t enough to stave off the impulse to glance at your phone, at least for many drivers. Nor is it enough to personally know someone, even a loved one, who has been involved in a distracted-driving crash.
The biggest deterrent, the survey found, is the risk of causing an accident.
Hopefully, through continued public safety campaigns, drivers will better appreciate the reality of the risks they’re taking by taking their eyes off the road. It simply isn’t worth it.