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How the Use of Mobile Web in Vehicles is Harmful

Just in time for the busiest travel season of the year, insurance company State Farm has released its annual research report on distracted driving, with troubling results.

Though texting while driving remains a concern on the highways, people are also webbing while driving with increasing frequency. These behaviors may pose equal or greater concerns in the effort to reduce distracted driving.

The July 2012 survey of nearly 1000 motorists shines a light on a growing safety concern: people accessing the internet while driving. Four years of data show a significant increase in the use of mobile web services while driving. The survey results were announced today, Nov. 16.

[ Also Read: Hollywood Stars Pledge Not to Text and Drive ]

The growing popularity of smart phones is contributing to these escalating numbers. The survey revealed an increase in the percentage of drivers who own mobile web devices, as well as an increase in the number of people who report accessing the internet while driving. This tells us more drivers than ever are webbing while driving.

“The mobile internet is generating another set of distractions for drivers to avoid,” said Chris Mullen, director of Technology Research at State Farm. “While the safety community is appropriately working to reduce texting while driving, we must also be concerned about the growing use of multiple mobile web services while driving.”

[ Also Read: Stop the Texts and Stop the Wrecks ]

While the distracted driving focus has traditionally been on young people, the data indicate that motorists of all ages are using the mobile web while driving.

For drivers 18-29:

  • Accessing the internet while on a cell phone while driving increased from 29 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2012.
  • Reading social media networks while driving increased from 21 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in 2012.
  • Updating social networks while driving increased from 20 percent in 2009 to 30 percent in 2011.
  • Checking email while driving rose from 32 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2012.

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For all drivers, the data showed:

  • Smart phone ownership is on the rise, and people who report webbing while driving goes down with age.
  • Accessing the internet while on a cell phone increased from 13 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2012.
  • Reading social media networks while driving increased from 9 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2012.
  • Updating social networks while driving increased from 9 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2012.

When asked for their opinion on ways to reduce distracted driving, 72 percent of drivers surveyed strongly agree with laws or regulations prohibiting texting or emailing behind the wheel.

However, almost two-thirds believe that laws governing cell phone use while driving are enforced to little or no extent. To a lesser degree, 45 percent were extremely likely to support technology that would prevent texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

[ Also Read: Turning Smartphone from Detractor to Driving Coach ]

“State Farm continues to support a multi-pronged approach to encouraging more engaged driving,” Mullen said. “Regulation, enforcement, education and technology all have a role to play in making our roads safer for all who share them.”

In August 2009 and 2010, and in July 2011 and 2012, State Farm’s Strategic Resources Department used an outside panel vendor to conduct an online survey of U.S. consumers ages 18+.

Survey responses were received from approximately 1,000 consumers each year, who identified themselves as having some insurance and financial responsibility for their household.

Only responses from consumers who had a valid driver’s license, owned a cell phone, and reported driving between 1 and 80 hours per week were used when reporting the findings of behavior-based questions. Responses from all respondents were used for the attitudinal questions.

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