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

e odds of a car accident "a lot." Forty-four percent thought the same about talking on a (non-hands-free) cellphone, and two-thirds thought it was dangerous to apply makeup while driving.

One highway safety expert called the poll findings troublesome.

"Despite all of the attention paid to cell phone distractions in the past few years, this survey highlights the broader problem that drivers do a lot of things behind the wheel that distract them," said Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Va. "People have driven distracted long before there were cellphones."

Some 39 states plus the District of Columbia have already enacted laws regulating the use of mobile devices in vehicles. But a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that use of cellphones and other distractions while driving has actually risen over time, despite these efforts.

While technology has helped create new driving hazards, it might also be a means of minimizing the risk, too, Rader said. He pointed to "crash-avoidance technologies" that automakers are installing on vehicles. These on-board devices can sense a hazard ahead, such as the driver in front of you suddenly slamming on the brakes.

"New laws are not likely the answer," Rader said. "This survey points to the potential for technology to help bring drivers' attention back to the road at critical moments, no matter what is distracting them, whether they're reaching for a cup of coffee, trying to send a text message or just daydreaming."

More information

Find out more on the perils of distracted driving at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Humphrey Taylor, chairman, The Harris Poll; Russ Rader, spokesman, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Arlington, Va.; <
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