State Farm: 19% of Drivers Surf the Web

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook...

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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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I’d love to be able to say I was shocked when I read about the survey State Farm did on dangerous driving behaviors. But I’m not.  I see it happening every single day on the road as I drive. Distracted driving is everywhere.  Beside you, in front of you, behind you – and maybe even in your drivers’ seat as you go down the road.

Keep in mind that this survey was a self-reported, voluntary and informal online one. Therefore the data generated isn’t necessarily a valid snapshot of what sort of activities occur on our highways each and every day.  The 912 respondents that participated in the State Farm survey also contained a majority of drivers in their 30s, rather than a real cross-section of their customers or the driving population in the United States.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) classifies cell phone usage as distracted driving.  But there are many other behaviors that also fall under this broad term, including:

  • Using hand-held and/or hands-free cell phones for voice communications
  • Using a laptop, notebook or netbook computer
  • Using PDAs, fax machines and GPSs
  • Being distracted by children
  • Adjusting the radio and other accessories
  • Looking for an address
  • Texting on a cell phone, hands-on or by voice
  • Daydreaming
  • Eating
  • Looking at a crash
  • Applying make-up or shaving

I’ll admit, I’ve eaten while driving.  Most of us have.  I’m also guilty of fiddling with my stereo.  Again, something that most of us have done.  But some of these behaviors are simply off the chart, don’t you think?

Seeing someone apply make-up, style their hair or even guys trying to shave while driving is a bit unnerving. I think the strangest thing I’ve ever witnessed was a lady trying to shave her legs with a razor as she drove, though.

In total, almost 20% of the fatal crashes that occur each year in the United States involve some sort of distracted driving.  And of that number of fatal accidents, almost 1/5 of them involved cell phones.

The full results of that State Farm survey revealed:

  • 19% of drivers surf the web at least once a week while driving
  • 35% of drivers send and receive text message at least once a week while driving
  • 74% of drivers make or receive phone calls while driving

It’s hard enough to deal with the typical daily frustrations we all experience without these issues creeping into our cars to distract us.  Distractions can lead to misunderstandings, and misunderstandings can easily lead to an even worse scourge on our highways – road rage.

I’m a huge nerd.  I love the convenience that my Android smart phone gives me. From applications, to the world wide web, to Foursquare checkins and beyond, it is a device that is often in my hand, but not when I drive.

Just remember this: your smart (or non-smart) phone will be there as soon as you arrive at your destination. Keeping it in your pocket, your purse or anywhere that places it out of your reach might just help ensure that you do indeed, arrive at your destination.  But using it while you’re driving – that might ensure your destination isn’t the one you intended, unless being in the hospital or graveyard is the intention.

Be safe, folks.

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