A new poll by the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety revealed that distracted driving may be a bigger risk than previously known. According to the organization’s survey, published in March 2022, 70% of licensed drivers acknowledged “they used a mobile device while driving for personal reasons in the past 90 days.” A breakdown of the survey, which reached 1,848 respondents, shows that 62% used the device for conversations, video calls, or texting; 37% used it for social media or another app; 27% used it to take a photo; 26% used it to record, stream, or watch a video; 25% used it to check or send email; 16% used it to review a document; and 4% used it for other purposes.
The poll also uncovered a higher proportion of distracted drivers among those whose job requires them to drive some of the time. Specifically, it found that 86% of licensed drivers in that category self-reported using a phone while driving in the previous 90 days. Among that group, the breakdown of phone usage was as follows: 73% used the device for conversations, video calls, or texting; 45% used it for social media or another app; 35% used it to record, stream, or watch a video; 30% used it to take a photo; 26% used it to review a document; 25% used it to check or send email; and 5% used it for other purposes.
Breaking down the data by age, the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety found that distracted driving is more prevalent among younger drivers, specifically those between ages 18 and 44. According to the survey, 84% of drivers between 18 and 34 reported using a mobile device for personal reasons while driving in the previous 90 days, while 87% of drivers between 35 and 44 reported as much. Those figures fell to 73% for drivers between 45 and 54; 63% for drivers between 55 and 64; and 44% for drivers 65 years and older.
The survey’s respondents overwhelmingly believed that various interventions can help mitigate the usage or impacts of mobile use while driving. Of the respondents, 58% said they believed advanced driver-assist technologies would help reduce distracted driving; 57% favored higher penalties and fines for distracted driving, and 50% favored more comprehensive state laws.
In a statement about the survey’s discoveries, Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety president Cathy Chase said: “The number of people killed in crashes involving distracted driving exceeded 3,000 in the U.S. in 2020. More than 420,000 people were injured in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available. This survey reveals the deadly and dangerous decisions by drivers contributing to this horrific fatality and injury toll. Additionally, one in three people involved in or knowing someone in a distracted driving crash where mobile device use was a factor should send off blaring alarms that urgent action is needed to address this public health calamity on our roadways.”