Texting not the only distraction behind the wheel - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Texting not the only distraction behind the wheel

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Just in time for the busiest travel day of the year, results from a distracted driving study say a large portion of people behind the wheel are also behind a smartphone screen.

State Farm has released its annual research report on distracted driving, with troubling results. Though texting while driving remains a concern on the nation's highways, people are also webbing while driving with increasing frequency. 

From a survey of nearly 1,000 motorists, a growing safety concern has developed. The survey indicates more drivers than previously though are linked to the internet in some way while driving.

From accessing popular social media sites, to using a navigation app, four years of data show a significant increase in the use of mobile web services while driving.

"The mobile internet is generating another set of distractions for drivers to avoid," said Justin Tomczak of 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." 

While the distracted driving focus has traditionally been on younger drivers, the data indicate that motorists of all ages are using the mobile web behind the wheel.

For drivers 18-29:

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

For all drivers, the data showed:

  • Accessing the internet while on a cell phone increased from 13% in 2009 to 21% in 2012.
  • Reading social media networks while driving increased from 9% in 2009 to 15% in 2012.
  • Updating social networks while driving increased from 9% in 2009 to 13% in 2012.


When asked for their opinion on ways to reduce distracted driving, 72% 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% were extremely likely to support technology that would prevent texting or talking on a cell phone while driving.

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