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Most U.S. Drivers Engage in 'Distracting' Behaviors: Poll
Date:11/30/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Whether it's talking on cellphones, fiddling with food and drink or doing some last-minute grooming, a large majority of adult drivers in the United States admit to being dangerously distracted while behind the wheel, a new poll shows.

According to the new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, most adults who drive on a regular basis admitted to having at some point engaged in distracting behaviors, be it eating/drinking (86 percent), talking on a non-hands-free cellphone (59 percent), setting their GPS device (41 percent), texting (37 percent) or applying makeup (14 percent).

Large minorities of drivers also admitted to driving while less than fully alert. For example, a quarter of respondents said they have driven after having two or more drinks, and 44 percent said they've felt sleepy while driving, "sometimes even momentarily dozing off." Smaller percentages (7 and 12 percent, respectively) said they drive this way "sometimes or often."

"The number of drivers who engage in potentially dangerous, in some cases extremely dangerous, behaviors while driving is terrifyingly high, particularly when you remember that every 1 percent of drivers polled represents more than one-and-three-quarters of a million people," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll.

"While we have some information on how dangerous some of these behaviors are (driving after drinking, talking on cellphones, falling asleep, texting) we can only speculate as to the numbers of accidents and deaths that are caused by the many millions of people who drive while setting their GPS, eating or drinking, surfing the Internet, watching videos, combing their hair, reading or applying makeup," added Taylor.

Prior research has examined the dangers of distracted driving, with one 2010 study finding that texting alone was implicated in more than 16,000 dea
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