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Texting & Driving: Parents do it Too!

For many people, driving is a daily activity. Whether it’s commuting to and from work or shuttling their kids to soccer practice, driving feels like it’s second nature to many Americans.

The truth however is that no matter how often or how comfortable you are behind the wheel, it’s still a very big responsibility. It only takes one minor mistake to cause an accident that can leave the driver, their passengers, and those in other motor vehicles around them seriously injured or worse.

Recent statistics from the NHTSA, show that thousands of drivers lose their lives every year due to distracted driving and hundreds of thousands are injured. But, just how common is distracted driving and who is doing it?

We recently issued a user survey and the results are shocking.

It’s Not Only Teens

It is often assumed that younger drivers are the source of many if not most accidents. That assumption grows when you include accidents caused by distracted driving.

Part of this is due to the fact that younger drivers are always seen as less experienced are more likely to make a mistake. Added to that, teens are envisioned as having more of an attachment to their smartphones than adults, thus they would be more likely to engage in text messaging while driving.

It’s not only teens that are texting while they are driving however.

Out of 237 survey respondents under the age of 18, 124 or 52.3% have personally witnessed one of their parents texting or messaging on their phone while driving in the past year.

As parents are their children’s role models, the fact that more than half of those under 18 and riding with a parent see parents texting while driving should be disconcerting to all drivers.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

Parents aren’t the only group of drivers putting passengers are risk. We surveyed a total of 1049 passengers of all ages asking them, “Have you personally witnessed your best friend texting or messaging on their phone while driving in the last year?”

A rather high 262 passengers responded that they have, which is a hefty 25%.

Of that group that have seen a best friend use their phone to text or message while driving, a large portion do tend to be under 25 years old, but seniors have witnessed it at a very high rate as well.

A breakdown of the 262 respondents who answered positively by age is as follows –

Under 18: 24.7%
18 – 24: 20.5%
25 – 34: 5.4%
35 – 44: 8.1%
45 – 54: 6.2%
55 – 64: 10.4%
65+: 24.7%

This is clearly not something that can be pinned on younger drivers only. And, if they are constantly witnessing adults texting and driving, they are more likely to follow suit.

A Fuller Picture of Texting Frequency

Getting a full view of what is really going on with how many people are and are not driving while distracted due to texting or sending messages on their smartphones comes down to more than just a binary “Yes” or “No” while asking people if they have seen a parent or friend doing so. A single incident over the course of a year, which is still dangerous, is much less egregious than more frequent phone usage.

As it turns out, those who text while driving tend to do so more out of habit than out of emergency. When questioned about frequency, those who have seen their friends texting replied in the following ways.

Rarely: 25.3%
More often than not: 30.5%
At least once a trip: 44.2%

As you can see, almost 3 out of every 4 positive respondents have seen their friends using their phones while behind the wheel much more often than just for emergency use.

What about minors and their parents?

Here is the breakdown according to their children.

Rarely: 26.7%
More often than not: 32.5%
At least once a trip: 40.8%

It appears that parents are not much better than friends. It is pretty shocking that they would put their children at risk as such a high frequency.

Is the Message Getting Through?

All of the above statistics are starting to paint a rather bleak picture. Many parents are using their phones while driving with their children in the car. And, they are doing it more often than not.

Likewise, many passengers have reported similar findings where their friends are concerned. And while it’s primarily happening with the 24 and under crowd as well as seniors, there’s plenty of phone usage in all age ranges.

To further explore how seriously people are taking the risks associated with distracted driving, one last question was asked: “Do you personally know anyone that was in an automobile accident caused by the driver of either car texting or messaging while driving?”

17.3% of the total survey respondents said that they did while 82.7% said that do not.

To dig into those numbers more deeply, of those that did know someone who was in an accident, a stunning 51.7% admitted to be a passenger in a moving automobile where either a parent or best friend was texting while driving.

In Summary

Distracted driving has always been a problem. But, with the inventions of both onboard GPS and the smartphone, it appears to have become a very serious one.

In 2013, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, issued suggested guidelines to auto manufactures that any onboard electronics should not take a driver’s eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds. From their research, the risk of accidents jumps significantly after that 2 second window. Regardless of the suggestion to manufacturers, drivers still have access to smartphones.

The results of the survey clearly show that texting while driving is still a problem going into 2019 and that it’s not only younger people who are spending time on their phones while driving. Teenagers, senior citizens, and parents alike continue to engage in this dangerous act.

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