Don’t read this story while driving: AAA says distracted driving up

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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AAA says distracted driving up

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

More motorists are aware of the problems of distracted driving, but awareness isn’t doing enough to stop them, new data show.

A newly released survey indicates that 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found in the latest edition of its Traffic Safety Culture Index.

More drivers report themselves engaging in risky behavior behind the wheel, too.

The number of drivers who report talking on a cell phone regularly or fairly often behind the wheel, the data show, increased 46 percent since 2013. Almost half of all drivers report recently talking on a hand-held phone, and nearly 35 percent have sent a text or email, the data show.

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“What we have seen year after year is this ‘do as I say not as I do’ behavior,” said Cindy Antrican, the AAA public affairs manager, in a statement along with the new data. “A sense that ‘I can text but you can’t,’ which is extremely troubling.”

The AAA data found that, while motorists engage in distracted driving, they also are well aware of the risks. About 58 percent of drivers surveyed said talking on a cell phone behind the wheel is “a very serious threat” to their safety, while 78 percent said texting is a significant danger, the data show.

The survey data are from a sample of 2,613 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days.

The results of suspected distracted driving can be deadly, officials said. This week, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office deputies are attempting to determine if a crash on Diamond Mill Road at Snake Road in Trotwood was due to the weather or distracted driving. The crash trapped a woman in her car after she lost control of her vehicle and slammed into a telephone poll. She survived, but deputies are investigating the cause.

“(A) cell phone was out of the car and on the ground,” said Chief Deputy Rob Streck.

Neighbor Tracy Canada said she believes the issue is getting worse.

“People pull out in front of each other around here,” Canada said. “People just ain’t paying attention these days.”

The AAA Foundation said its data shows drivers talking on a cell phone are up to four times as likely to crash, while those who text are up to eight times as likely to be involved in a crash.

The foundation said that while federal estimates of distracted driving crashes have dropped two percent, the federal number is “likely erroneous” because of the difficulty of detecting distracted driving once the crash has occurred.

Antrican advises drivers to get situated before driving, pre-programming GPSs and other devices. Once behind the wheel, she said, stop texting, emailing, and other distracting activities. And, she said, avoid messy foods while driving, as spills can distract.

Texting while driving became illegal in Ohio in 2013, becoming a primary enforcement matter for drivers younger than 18. Efforts to change the law have not yet reached the governor's desk.

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BY THE NUMBERS:

88 Percent of drivers who believe distracted driving is on the rise

78 Percent of drivers who said texting while driving is a significant danger

35 Percent of drivers who reported recently sending a text or email while driving

2,613 licensed drivers ages 16 and older in the AAA survey who reported driving in the past 30 days

Source: AAA

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