Forget eating, drinking, reading, texting or applying make-up as the most distracting thing that drivers do while they drive. New reports indicate that drivers are now accessing the internet with their cell phones and surfing the web while they drive. In fact, in a new report published by USA Today, up to one and four drivers are going online and surfing the web while they drive. Drivers also admit that while they drive they aren’t just surfing the web. They are also emailing and updating social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
The survey was conducted by State Farm Insurance who decided to track driver’s habits beginning in 2009. According to the report, drivers who said they were surfing the web has “increased in 2009 to 24% this year. Among drivers ages 18-29, that number rose from 29% to 49%.”
Big push to stop texting and driving
In the last several years we have seen more campaigning against texting and driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports can increase the risk that a driver will be involved in a traffic accident by a whopping 23%. But it looks like the focus needs to be expanded to include surfing on the web as well. If texting a simple message can take your eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, how much longer will your eyes be distracted if you are updating your profile on Facebook?
Interestingly, there was a study done in 2009 by Road and Driver magazine which found that driving drunk may allow drivers to have a faster reaction time than drivers who are sending or receiving a text message.
Given all the money and effort devoted to eliminating drunken driving it may be time to re-evaluate where some of our effort is spent. Public shame has always been a good behavior modifier. In fact, recent reports have found that texting and driving among those drivers ages18-29 has actually decreased, from 71% to 69% in recent years. That could be in part to an increased awareness to the problem. The same strategy could be used to stop cell phone use to surf the web.
Surfing the web is not just a teen problem
Just like drinking and driving is not just a teenage problem, neither is surfing the web and driving. Older phone users have also modernized their technology, which means more and more drivers over the age of forty have access to a smartphone while they drive. It seems the temptation is just too much for some of them.
Some drivers report they only text or surf the web while driving on wide open interstates where there are no other drivers. Unfortunately, high speeds and taking your eyes off the road, even if there are no other cars, can have deadly consequences. Cell phone use to surf the web is not safe at any time while you are behind the wheel. Most of us wouldn’t drink and drive; surfing the web or texting could be even worse.
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