Auto News: Use of mobile web services has drivers distracted

December 28, 2011

Staff Report

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — New research from State Farm shows that although texting while driving remains a concern on the nation’s highways, drivers are accessing other mobile web services at much higher rates. These behaviors may pose equal or greater concerns in the battle against distracted driving.

In a new survey of nearly 900 motorists, the company found that use of mobile web services has increased dramatically over the last two years.

For drivers 18-29:

• Accessing the Internet while on a cell phone while driving increased from 29 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2011.

Reading social media networks while driving increased from 21 percent in 2009 to 37 percent in 2011.

Updating social networks while driving increased from 20 percent in 2009 to 33 percent in 2011.

While calls from NTSB and others to ban cell phones have focused largely on texting, it would seem that a growing and potentially larger concern for safety advocates is the rapid increase in the use of mobile web services while driving,” said David Beigie, State Farm Public Affairs vice president. “Additionally, while the focus has been on young people, the data also indicates that motorists of all ages are increasing their use of the mobile web while driving.”

For all drivers, the data showed:

Accessing the Internet while on a cell phone increased from 13 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in 2011.

Reading social media networks while driving increased from 9 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2011.

Updating social networks while driving increased from 9 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2011.

Ironically, the study showed that use of texting while driving was remaining flat or decreasing in some instances:

For drivers 18-29, 71 percent said they engaged in texting while driving in 2009. That number dropped to 64 percent in 2011.

For all drivers, this number stayed relatively flat coming in at 31 percent in 2009 compared to 32 percent in 2011.

About the survey

In August 2009 and 2010, and in July 2011, State Farm’s Strategic Resources Department used an outside panel vendor to conduct an online survey of U.S. consumers ages 18 and older. Survey responses were received from consumers 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. Driving was defined as any time the car was en route to a destination, including being stopped in traffic or at a stoplight.

From the Dec. 28, 2011-Jan. 3, 2012, issue

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