April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month; New Survey Indicates Michigan Motorists Feel Texting, Talking Drivers More Likely to Crash
Lynn Sutfin, OHSP, (517) 241-1513Agency:
More than 80 percent of Michigan motorists feel drivers talking on cell phones are more likely to be involved in a crash, despite the fact more than 56 percent admittedly make and accept cell phone calls while driving, according to a statewide phone survey conducted for the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).
The percentage jumps to nearly 96 percent when asked about potential crash involvement for drivers who are texting or emailing while driving. According to Michigan crash data, nearly 4,000 crashes in 2010 listed the driver condition as distracted. Cell phone use was indicated in 881 crashes.
The 600-sample telephone survey was conducted by Glengariff Group, Inc., in advance of April's National Districted Driving Awareness Month. Those surveyed were asked about driving habits, cell phone use and texting while driving, Michigan's texting law and their stance on cell phone legislation.
"It appears drivers are aware of the dangers of being distracted by cell phones and texting," said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. "But the ability and pressure to be constantly connected and available seem to trump traffic safety as motorists continue to talk and text while driving."
To draw awareness to the dangers of distracted driving, the Michigan State Police is disseminating a 30-second public service announcement to television stations statewide. To view the clip, go to http://youtu.be/pUVwAvltJ2Y.
More than 42 percent of the phone survey respondents believe a texting driver is as dangerous as a drunk driver, while 33 percent felt drivers talking on cell phones were as dangerous as drunk drivers.
Although Michigan law prohibits drivers from reading, manually typing or sending a text message while driving, 8.2 percent of respondents admitted to sending texts and emails while driving and nearly a quarter of that group indicated they did so daily. More than 17 percent of respondents said they looked at incoming texts and emails while driving and 19.4 percent of them did this daily.
Age appears to play a role in distractions in the vehicle, with respondents under age 30 being significantly more likely to groom themselves, use their cell phone to make and receive calls, or send and receive texts or emails while driving. A copy of the survey results can be viewed at www.michigan.gov/ohsp.