Driving While Distracted is rapidly replacing Driving Under The Influence as the most serious driving misbehavior in the country.
You’ve seen them in your rear view mirror or in the car next to you. Sometimes they’re putting on makeup while steering with their knees, punching text messages into a phone without ever looking up at the road, or using a BlackBerry to read e-mail with one hand and steering with a cup of coffee in the other. Or, perhaps you’ve seen – or even done – worse.
A new survey by Nationwide Mutual Insurance shows “Driving While Distracted” (DWD) is quite prevalent among today’s drivers and more dangerous than you might think. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted drivers account for almost 80 percent of all crashes in the U.S. As found by Nationwide’s survey, even those who perceive themselves as safe drivers admit to doing outlandish things behind the wheel, including changing clothes, balancing a checkbook and shaving.
“We are a nation of people with too much to do and too little time. In fact, more than 80 percent of drivers surveyed identified themselves as multitaskers,” said Bill Windsor, associate vice president of Safety at Nationwide. “However, driving requires significant attention. Multitasking while behind the wheel poses a threat to you and your fellow drivers.”
According to the survey of 1,200 Americans, 83 percent of those polled believe they are safe drivers and 59 percent don’t consider themselves distracted drivers. However, 73 percent talk on cell phones, only 16 percent drive at or below the speed limit, and 38 percent admit they have driven a certain distance without any recollection of doing so.
What exactly do people do behind the wheel? According to the survey, 31 percent of respondents say they daydream; 23 percent experience road rage; 19 percent fix their hair, text or instant message; 14 percent comfort or discipline children; and 8 percent drive with a pet in their lap.