Dangerous behavior once associated with young people has begun to spread to older drivers. Smart phone ownership has risen sharply among people over 30. Along with it has come an unfortunate increase in the percentage of older drivers who admit to distracted driving. The increase in distracted driving is likely to result in an increase in car accidents caused by drivers who are paying attention to their phones instead of the safe operation of a motor vehicle. The increase was tracked in a survey conducted by State Farm.
Since 2011, smart phone ownership levels are up 26 percent among drivers in the 30-39 age bracket. Those levels now equal ownership among 18-29 year-old drivers. In the 40-49 year-old age bracket, ownership rose 35 percent, with 82 percent of drivers in this age group now owning the devices. For many, a smart phone represents an overwhelming temptation to access the Internet, text or talk while behind the wheel. Smart phones with hands-free capability may offer the illusion of safe use, as studies have shown little difference between the distraction caused by hand-held and hands-free calls.
Since 2009, the percentage of drivers who admit to using phones to access the Internet while driving has risen 11 percent. Nearly a quarter of all drivers surveyed acknowledged engaging in this dangerous practice. While many drivers support laws banning texting or emailing while driving, support of the law and refusal to engage in the practice do not go hand in hand.
Personal electronic devices may pose the largest growing threat to safe driving. Distracted drivers are responsible for thousands of highway deaths every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As a primary form of distraction grows in popularity, the death toll is likely to increase as well.
Source: Insurance Journal, "Older Drivers Catching Up with Younger in Distracted Driving: Survey," 12 November 2013