Nearly 90% of drivers believe that people who use a cell phone behind the wheel pose a danger to others, yet 53% admitted doing so and 45% admitted to sending, reading or receiving a text message, according to survey results released Thursday by Farmers Insurance.
Gen Z and millennial drivers surveyed also admitted to participating in video chats (32% collectively), posting to or viewing social media (28%), playing a game (27%) and streaming video (24%) while behind the wheel, suggesting younger drivers could face continued driving distractions as technology continues to evolve.
“It's understandable that today's drivers feel a conflict -- people know that phones, and the distraction they introduce, pose a risk and can interfere with safe driving. However, phones can be tempting and pull our attention and focus,” said Carolyn Wald, head of product innovation integration for Farmers.
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“With April being National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we want to remind people that there are a few precautions and tools we can all use to help keep our attention focused where it belongs, and to help keep the roads safer for everyone,” she said.
Wald recommends the following tips to help people stay safe when they hit the road:
-- Make your car a “no phone zone”: It may seem like a no-brainer, but limiting mobile phone use is one of the easiest ways to become a more focused driver. And don't forget, hands-free calling and voice texting can still be a distraction while you're on the road. If you find it helpful, use an app to silence phone calls and texts when you're behind the wheel.
-- Multitask later: The last place you should be multitasking is behind the wheel of a car. Avoid eating, glancing at your calendar, searching for dropped items or anything else that can take your attention away from the road.
-- Chat light: Take a cue from the 33% of those surveyed who believe that talking to passengers, including those in the back seat, poses a danger to others on the road. Save serious conversations and important news with passengers for when you're off the road. Instead, keep the chatter light, so you can focus on the road ahead.
-- Buckle up children and pets: Make sure children and pets are properly secured in their seats before starting the ignition. In many cases, the safest place for your children and four-legged passengers is in the back seat of the car.
-- Park it: Always pull over and park in a safe place before adjusting controls in your car, tending to a pet or child, sending a text or talking on your phone.
-- Get an app for that: Consider downloading an app that rewards you for focused driving behaviors, like Signal from Farmers, which helps drivers recognize behaviors that may be taking their attention off the road and earn a discount for focused driving. The insurer also recently launched CrashAssist within the Signal app, a feature that can detect crashes and help connect drivers to emergency and support services.
The survey of 1,004 adults 18 years of age and older was conducted on March 2-4.