A new public opinion poll conducted by Harris Interactive (News - Alert) for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company finds that 38 percent drivers have been hit or nearly hit by a driver distracted by their cell phone.
The telephone survey of 1,004 adults conducted in June confirms Americans' increasing use of smart phone applications is creating new distractions behind the wheel in addition to talking on the phone and texting while driving.
Harris Interactive also conducted a survey in April, 2010, in which it found that among the millions of Americans who download mobile applications for smart phones, more than one in four admit to using those apps while driving.
According to the new survey, the cell phone apps most used while driving are ones that allow drivers to access Global Positioning System or "GPS," send and receive email, search the Internet and read and post messages on Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter.
Technological distractions while driving are not just cell phone related. According to the new survey, nearly four out of 10 drivers have vehicles with built-in technology - including DVD player or video monitor, music search, capability to make phone calls, GPS and Internet access, all of which contribute to distractions while driving.
Among the drivers those who have these devices, 82 percent of drivers use the music search feature, 85 percent use the DVD/video monitor, 91 percent use GPS and 68 percent use the phone capability, the survey finds.
"Many of the 500 million Facebook users have an app on their phone so they can read and post messages when they're away from their computer.
"Social networking has become an obsession for many people, but it's critical that people not try to do it while driving," Bill Windsor, Nationwide's associate vice president for Consumer Safety, said. "No post or tweet is so important it's worth losing your life over."
"Americans can't seem to resist the temptation of using new technology while they're driving," Windsor added. "Whether it is the latest smart phone or new in-car technology, many drivers seem more concerned about these toys than focusing on the road."
Nationwide provides a full range of personalized insurance and financial services, including auto insurance, motorcycle, boat, homeowners, life insurance, farm, commercial insurance, administrative services, annuities, mortgages, mutual funds, pensions, long-term savings plans and health and productivity services.
In June, TMCnet reported that adults are more likely than teenagers to send or read text messages while driving a vehicle. The finding was based on a study conducted by the Pew (News - Alert) Research Center. The survey found that about 47 percent of adults who use the text-messaging function on their cell phones said they have read or sent messages while driving. For teen respondents in the age group of 16 and 17, this percentage is 34.Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Alice Straight