Earlier this year, the National Safety Council (NSC) released data from a public opinion poll that explored attitudes and behaviors of U.S. drivers with regards to unsafe driving behaviors, with a particular emphasis on distracted driving. The results are not revolutionary—participants admitted to using phones and other devices at levels similar to data collected by other organizations. Yet the survey asked a number of nuanced questions, providing some insights into how individuals approach distracted driving, their reasons behind engaging in it and what forms it usually takes.
The initial survey, run in March 2016, encompassed over 2,000 licensed drivers over 18, followed by a supplement this fall that added data from over 1,000 teen drivers. The survey was balanced according to age, gender, geographic region and annual household income.
A significant statistic highlighted by the survey was that 67 percent of adults and 61 percent of teens surveyed have felt that they were at risk because another driver was distracted by technology. Yet only 25 percent of adults and 30 percent of teens believed that that their distraction by technology put themselves or others at risk behind the wheel. One explanation for this discrepancy is that the survey participants happened to be a cross-section of impeccably focused drivers as compared to the general population. Much more likely, however, is that participants are not as aware of the dangers they themselves are responsible for as opposed to the dangers for which others are to be blamed.
Another interesting item: participants were asked what would motivate them to do a wide variety of distracted driving activities while driving, ranging from taking phone calls to texting to checking emails. For phone calls, the category that participants were most likely to admit to doing while driving, the number one impetus was family. 75 percent of adults claimed that family would motivate them to make phone calls while driving, while 63 percent of teens claimed the same. In other words, friends, work, or personal motivation aren’t the only culprits involved.
Last but not least, a good portion of adults and teens admitted to engaging in everything from phone calls to GPS use to texting to playing music to grooming. For every single category the number of teens that would ‘never’ do the activity was lower than the adults that would ‘never’ do the activity and the number of teens that would ‘often’ do the activity was higher than the adults that would ‘often’ do the activity. While the differences are frequently minimal—just a couple of percentage points—they remind us that the most inexperienced drivers are the ones that are that more likely to engage in distracted driving behaviors of all kinds.
As you likely know if you read this blog, we here at TrueMotion are committed to improve driving safety and, more specifically, reduce distracted driving. The more driver data we have, the better we can understand how to better shape behavior and save lives. Reports like the NSC public opinion poll are thus incredibly valuable in highlighting the nuances involved. We could of course go on highlighting many of the other nuances highlighted in the study, but will leave you with some of the big ones above to digest before we throw more data—our specialty—in your direction.
Share this post
We’re launching a contest to find the best Do Not Disturb While Driving messages. Starting today, you can comment on…
August 5, 2019
We’re asked all the time: What’s the silver bullet to reducing distracted driving? This is an interesting question because it…
April 30, 2019