A STUDY OF CONNECTICUT DISTRACTED DRIVING

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1 About this study A STUDY OF CONNECTICUT DISTRACTED DRIVING Like an increasing number of states, Connecticut has enacted laws restricting behavior that distracts drivers from focusing on the road. With the rapid development of affordable mobile technology, the use of such devices have become commonplace while operating a vehicle. Of greater concern on the roadways are texting, web browsing and making calls without the use of a hands-free device. Currently Connecticut prohibits the following: Hand-held cell phones or mobile electronic devices may not be used while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers 18+ need hands-free accessories to legally use cell phones or mobile electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. New drivers who are 16 or 17 are restricted from using any type of cell phone or mobile electronic device while driving, even with hands-free accessories. Effective August 1, 2008, a conviction of violating this law will result in at least a 30-day suspension of your driver license and could require you to attend an operator retraining class if you have other violations. Licensed drivers of all ages in Connecticut were surveyed to determine awareness, sensitivity, behavior and attitudes inclusive of distracted driving associated with mobile technology, as well as those not commonly considered as detrimental to road safety. Behaviors such as tuning the car radio, changing a CD, conversing with other passengers, interacting with children, personal grooming, eating and drinking, reading driving directions and programming a GPS were also studied. This poll, conducted using the online survey provider Cvent, consisted of 511 drivers with valid Connecticut licenses who operate a vehicle at least once per week. Distracted Driving Behaviors Behaviors not typically associated with distracted driving were the most common among drivers (Table 1). Talking with other passengers (93%), tuning the radio (92%), eating and drinking (81%), and reaching for items on the front passenger seat (79%) were the most frequently reported behaviors. Three in 10 (31%) respondents said they reached for items in the back seat and 37% interacted with children while driving. The use of mobile technologies was mentioned less by contrast; nevertheless, 30% of respondents reported sending or reading text messages while driving, nearly half (49%) said they speak on a mobile phone without using a hands-free device, and three in ten (31%) reported programming a GPS. Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 1

2 Driving with Technology Table 1 Distracted Driving Behaviors Read driving directions. Reached for items on the front passenger seat. Listened to music wearing headphones. Tuned the radio (changed stations, raised the volume). Made/received calls without using hands-free technology. Changed CDs or DVDs. Read a newspaper. Ate or drank. Reached for items on the back passenger seat. Browsed the Internet. Talked with passengers. Personal grooming (apply makeup, comb or brush your hair, shaved). Programmed a navigation system. Interacted with children in the back seat. Drove under the influence of alcohol. Read/send text messages. None of these Have you ever done any of the following while you were driving a car? Younger drivers (17-44) appear to read and send text messages nearly four times as much as older drivers (45+). Female drivers read and send text messages more than male drivers but males tend to speak on their mobile devices without a hands-free device more than female drivers (Table 2). Table 2 Driving with Technology Total Sample 57% 79% 6% Have you ever done any of the following while you were driving a car? Over the past six months, all respondents who have texted while driving do so relatively often. Younger (50%), males (49%), females (47%) and older drivers (47%) who texthave 92% 49% 57% 1% 81% 31% 5% 93% 11% 31% 37% 12% 30% 3% Total Younger Sample (17-44) Made/received calls without using hands-free technology. 49% 66% 40% 55% 46% Programmed a navigation system. 31% 45% 23% 30% 34% Read/send text messages. 30% 58% 15% 23% 38% Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 2

3 said they do so at least weekly. Further, distracted drivers are also active with other mobile technologies, such as programming a navigation system (Table 3). Table 3 Driving Distracted Using Technology - Weekly Total Younger Sample (17-44) How often in the past six months have you done any of the following while driving? The motivation to text while driving varies by age and gender, but appears to be largely for personal reasons. More than half (55%) of all respondents say they text for personal reasons, while more than one-third (38%) will text for any reason. Six in ten young drivers (60%) will text for personal reasons. drivers are four times more likely to text for work-specific reasons than younger drivers. One-third of female (33%) and 44% of male drivers will text for any reason (Table 4). Table 4 The Nature of Texts Total Younger Sample (17-44) What is the nature of the texts you send while driving? Made/received calls without using hands-free technology. 35% 41% 32% 38% 32% Programmed a navigation system. 36% 37% 36% 40% 33% Read/send text messages. 48% 50% 47% 49% 47% Personal Work Both personal and work Other 55% 60% 45% 48% 60% 4% 2% 8% 8% 1% 38% 36% 40% 44% 33% 3% 1% 8% 0% 5% Drivers indicate a variety of approaches to texting while driving. Texting occurs most frequently while their cars are idle at a traffic sign or signal (71%). This could indicate a lack of comprehension of Connecticut s ban on the use of mobile devices while operating a vehicle. (19%) and younger drivers (22%) are just as likely to text while their cars are in motion. Males (26%) are more likely to text in a moving car than all groups (Table 5). Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 3

4 Texting with Passengers Table 5 How Text Messages are Typically Sent Continue driving while you complete the message. Park your car in a safe location to send the message. Have a passenger send the message for you. Use your device's voice command feature to send the message. While stopped at a traffic sign/light. Total Younger Sample (17-44) Which of the following describes how you typically send a text message while driving? Nearly eight in ten (79%) drivers across all groups surveyed will not text with children as passengers. Younger drivers have texted with children as passengers slightly more than the total sample and 8% more than older drivers (Figure 1). Figure 1 Texting with Children as Passengers 22% 22% 19% 26% 19% 27% 23% 37% 23% 30% 33% 34% 30% 23% 39% 25% 30% 18% 31% 22% 71% 73% 67% 65% 75% Have you ever sent a text while driving with children in your car? Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 4

5 Connecticut drivers are far less reluctant to text and drive with passengers other than children. More than half of younger drivers (54%) and male drivers (51%) reported texting with passengers in their cars. Four in ten female drivers (41%) said they have texted with passengers (Figure 2), slightly less frequently than their male counterparts. Figure 2 Texting with Other Passengers in the Car Connecticut Laws Have you ever sent a text while driving with another passenger in the car? The majority of Connecticut drivers at least assume there are laws in place restricting the use of mobile devices while driving. Most presume that texting (89%), engaging in phone conversations without a hands-free device (94%) and browsing (62%) is prohibited by law. For study purposes, Plymouth Rock Assurance provided respondents with an explanation of Connecticut law. Despite this information, less than 20% were willing to stop using their mobile devices while driving. Six in ten (61%) said they would park first in a safe location before using a mobile device and 10% said they would not change their behavior at all (Table 6). Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 5

6 I will stop using my mobile device while driving. I will use my mobile device only when my car is parked at a safe location. Table 6 Influence of Connecticut Law I will use my mobile device only when my car is stopped at a traffic light or traffic sign. No change -- I will continue to use my mobile device while driving. How will the information you reviewed [CT law] influence the use of your mobile technology while driving? Witnessing Accidents Total Sample Younger (17-44) 16% 17% 16% 17% 15% 61% 49% 66% 58% 64% 13% 22% 9% 12% 14% 10% 12% 9% 13% 7% Drivers seeing other drivers using mobile devices on Connecticut s roadways appear to be an everyday occurrence. Fifteen percent (15%) of respondents personally know someone who has been in an accident involving the use of a mobile device. The study population has been fortunate with seemingly fewer experiences with distracted driving accidents. Twice as many younger drivers did indicate a near-miss accident (11%) as older drivers (5%) and 14% admitted to knowing someone involved in a distracted driving accident (Table 7). Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 6

7 I have witnessed other drivers using a mobile device while their vehicles were in motion. I have been involved in a near accident while using a mobile device as a driver. I have been involved in an accident while using a mobile device as a driver. I have been involved in a near accident while the driver was using a mobile device as a passenger. I have been involved in an accident while the driver was using a mobile device as a passenger. I personally know someone who was in an accident involving the use of a mobile device. None of these situations has happened to me. Changing Distracted Driving Behavior Table 7 Witnessing Incidents of Distracted Driving Total Sample Younger (17-44) Has any of the following happened to you while you were in a car? 92% 90% 94% 92% 92% 7% 11% 5% 7% 7% 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% 4% 7% 3% 4% 4% 1% 1% 1% 0% 1% 15% 14% 15% 15% 15% 7% 9% 6% 7% 7% Grassroots efforts to change distracted driving behavior may prove challenging in Connecticut. As passengers, most (70%) are reluctant to ask drivers to put their mobile devices down while their cars are in motion. However, a considerable number of younger drivers (44%) have asked drivers to put down their devices. More than onethird of females (35%) have made this request. Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 7

8 Figure 3 Stop Texting As a passenger, have you ever asked the driver to stop texting while the car was in motion? Nearly all Connecticut drivers commonly witness other drivers using their mobile devices but few (23%) have actually signaled another driver to put it down their devices (Figure 4). There may be an underlying lack of awareness of the dangers of distracted driving among Connecticut drivers. It may require more severe penalties for using technology on the roads. The jumping-off point may be campaigns for younger drivers using the same technology that is second nature to them, encouraging them to put down the device and tell others to do the same. Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 8

9 Figure 4 Signaling Other Drivers to Stop Texting Have you ever attempted to alert the driver of another car to stop texting? Connecticut Distracted Driving Study Page 9

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