It is no surprise that cell phone calls and texting distract drivers, but it is surprising that the distracting driving is on the rise.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, phoning and driving increases the risk of crashes four-fold, with hands free and hand held devices equally dangerous. Texting increases this risk eight to 16 times.
A team of experts from UC San Diego's Trauma Epidemiology and Injury Prevention Research Center analyzed the driving habits of college students in San Diego County.
“Distracted Driving is a highly prevalent behavior in college students who have misplaced confidence in their own driving skills and their ability to multitask,” said Linda Hill, MD, MPH, clinical professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine in an announcement. “Despite the known dangers, distracted driving has become an accepted behavior.”
California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Robert Clark said this study highlights the high prevalence of distracted driving in college students, including texting while driving.
“The demonstration of misplaced confidence in their own and others’ ability to multitask may lead to opportunities for us to educate and employ some risk abatement strategies,” he said about the report.
Nearly 5,000 students from UC San Diego, San Diego State University, University of San Diego, CSU San Marcos and eight smaller colleges in the region participated in the study. The average age was 21 years old; 66 percent female; 83 percent were undergraduates; 17 percent graduates.
Distracted Driving Behaviors According to UC San Diego
- 78 percent reported driving while using a cell phone (talking or texting)
- 52 percent reported using hands free devices at least some of the time
- 47 percent said they use hands free at least 50 percent of the time
- Only 25 percent used hands free with high frequency
- 50 percent said they send texts while driving on freeway
- 60 percent said they send texts while in stop and go traffic or in city streets
- 87 percent send texts while at traffic lights
- Only 12 percent said they never text, not even at a traffic light
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