Risky Business: Cell Phone-Using Drivers More Likely to Text, Speed

Phoenix, Jan. 25, 2013. Nine in 10 Americans believe distracted driving is a much bigger problem today than it was three years ago, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Today, AAA is releasing findings from a national survey on distracted driving. The survey found that cell phone-using drivers are more likely to engage in additional dangerous behaviors behind the wheel:

  • 65 percent also reported speeding
  • 44 percent also reported driving while drowsy
  • 53 percent also reported sending a text or email
  • 29 percent also drove without a seatbelt

“As a safety advocate, AAA finds it concerning that the majority of motorists recognize distracted driving dangers, yet choose to engage in them anyway,” said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona. “Drivers of all ages contribute to this problem. However, this issue tends to be more prevalent among young drivers, as electronic devices, such as cell phones, are proven to be the most common form of distraction for teens.”

According to AAA research, 82 percent of 16- and 17-year-old drivers have cell phones and readily admit to using them behind the wheel. AAA’s latest research also uncovered:

  • 61 percent of young drivers (age 16-24) reported to have read a text or email while driving in the past month.
  • 26 percent of young drivers (age 16-24) reported checking or updating social media while driving.

Distracted driving has been a hot topic at the state capitol in recent years. While AAA continues to support a statewide ban on texting while driving, this session, the advocacy organization is focused on strengthening Arizona’s graduated driver licensing law (GDL) by banning the use of wireless communications devices for novice drivers.

“With additional research that highlights the common use of cell phones among teen drivers—as well as awareness of the danger that this distraction poses to all road users, AAA urges Arizona lawmakers to make this issue a priority this session,” Gorman said.

Arizonans can monitor the progress and take action on distracted driving bills, as well as other transportation-related issues, by visiting AAA’s legislative action center.

The distraction data were collected as part of the AAA Foundation’s 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally representative, probability-based survey of 3,896 U.S. residents ages 16 and older. The sample is representative of U.S. households reachable by telephone or by regular mail. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety provides additional details in the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index and as part of a report called Distracted and Risk-Prone Drivers.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance and travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides insurance, travel, auto repair, discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.