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Voice Texting Still Dangerous, Warns New Study

“Taking mental concentration off the road.”

by on Apr.23, 2013

Even switching to hands-free texting may not reduce the risk of distracted driving.

Even as more states move to bar motorists from texting while driving, a growing number of automakers have been adding supposedly safer voice-to-text features to their vehicles. But a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute warns that the newer technology is just as likely to leave drivers distracted and at risk of a crash.

Distracted driving is responsible for an estimated 11% of all highway deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and texting is generally seen as one of the worst – and growing — problems. The Texas study cites industry data showing Americans send 6.1 billion text messages a day, and other studies have indicated that a sizable share of U.S. motorists – including a significant majority of younger drivers – text behind the wheel.

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With more and more states barring the use of handheld phones, whether to make a call or to text, the auto industry has been trying to fill the gap with hands-free technology such as Bluetooth calling and new voice-to-text apps.  But despite being billed as a safer alternative, the new study indicates that texting in any form is a dangerous distraction.


Stop Daydreaming, Warns Distracted Driving Study

Texting, cellphones apparently aren’t the only problem.

by on Apr.05, 2013

Distracted driving plays a role in fatal crashes, but so does daydreaming, according to a new study.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the “epidemic” of distracted driving, as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has dubbed it, and most fingers point to such high-tech diversions as texting and handheld cellphoning. But a new study says we may be looking in the wrong direction – or perhaps not looking at all.

Apparently, you are five times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash because you were daydreaming or “lost in thought” than if you were distracted by the use of some electronic device, according to new research by the Erie Insurance Group.

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“The results were disturbing,” said Erie Senior Vice President Doug Smith.

The study focused on the 65,000 fatal accidents that occurred in the U.S. over the last two years, identifying 10% as the result of some form of distracted driving – in line with federal and other insurance industry estimates.


Parents Who Take Risks Have Teen Drivers Who Take Risks

Despite crackdown, new study finds teen texting while driving “remains commonplace.”

by on Nov.27, 2012

Teens often mimic -- good or bad -- the driving behavior of their parents.

Despite a nationwide crackdown on distracted driving, a new study finds teen texting “remains commonplace,” though the research also revealed that parents have a strong impact on the sort of risks young drivers take behind the wheel.

The study found that parents who don’t follow safe practices behind the wheel are likely to have children who also take risks. And that behavior is typically learned at a very young age.

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“Driver education begins the day a child’s car seat is turned around to face front,” said Dr. Tina Savor, a teen driving behavioral expert at Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center, or CSRC. “The one piece of advice I would give to parents to help them keep newly licensed drivers safe on the road it is to always be the driver you want your teen to be.”


Despite Distracted Driving Crackdown, More Motorists Going Online

Younger drivers are the worst offenders.

by on Nov.21, 2012

A growing number of motorists are using their smartphones to go online, finds a new study.

Despite the most intense safety-related crackdown since federal, state and local authorities decided to get tough on drunk driving, a new study suggests more motorists are going online to surf the web.

Not surprisingly, the study by insurance giant State Farm found the most serious abuse among drivers 18 to 29, 48% admitting to surfing the web while behind the wheel this past year, up from 29% in 2009 – a figure that may also reflect the rapid proliferation of smartphones capable of going online.

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“The mobile internet is generating another set of distractions for drivers to avoid,” warned Chris Mullen, State Farm’s director of technology research. “While the safety community is appropriately working to reduce texting while driving, we must also be concerned about the growing use of multiple mobile web services while driving.”


Four of Five Drivers Admit to Distracted Driving Behavior

Men (surprise!) admit to being the worst offenders.

by on Jun.27, 2012

Government data reveals that while highway fatalities are declining, distracted driving deaths are up..

If you’ve ever texted while driving or sent out a Tweet, well, you aren’t alone.  In fact, you’re far from the minority, it seems.  A new Harris Poll reveals that more than four out of five motorists admit to making some sort of distracted driving behavior in a typical month.

Men, it turns out, are more likely to engage in this potentially dangerous behavior, according to the latest Harris AutoTechCast study, particularly when it comes to taking or making a phone call.  Younger motorists are more likely to do things like texting.

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Some of the behaviors might not normally land on a list of dangerous activities, such as drinking a beverage, but the risky behaviors begin to add up – to an average 37 different distracted driving activities over the last month, according to Harris Interactive, which conducted the poll.


NHTSA Previews New “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving”

Meanwhile, new poll suggests drivers don’t want Twitter, Facebook, other distracting apps anyway.

by on Jun.07, 2012

The US Dept. of Transportation has released a new "Blueprint" aimed at ending distracted driving.

With cellphones, texting and other distractions blamed for several thousand traffic fatalities annually, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today introduced a new “Blueprint for Ending Distracted Driving” that could effectively limit the fast-expanding world of so-called “connected car technologies.”

The announcement, ironically, came on the same day that leaders of the communications, automobile and digital technologies industries were gathering together in Detroit to discuss the latest in-car technologies and the way to expand infotainment and telematics revenues.

But one study disclosed at the conference raised the question of just how much more technology motorists really want to deal with when driving, suggesting there is surprisingly little support for apps-based systems that could put access to such social media services as Twitter and Facebook on the dashboard.

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LaHood’s ambitious “Blueprint” aims to curb traffic fatalities caused by the use of cellphones and other technologies while driving.  And though it does not specifically outline an outright ban it encourages more stringent state and local regulations – and provides $2.4 million in grants to assist police in catching distracted drivers.


A Third of Young Drivers Texting Behind the Wheel

“Deadly epidemic,” says DOT chief LaHood.

by on Mar.07, 2011

Nearly a third of drivers under 30 text while behind the wheel, reveals a new study.

America is facing a “deadly epidemic,” as more and more young people text or use cellphones while driving, warns Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

A new study, conducted by the Department of Transportation and Consumer Reports magazine, reveals that 30% of those under the age of 30 admit testing while behind the wheel.  And 63% acknowledge they’ve used hand-held cellphones.

By comparison, researchers found just 9% of drivers over 30 admitting to texting, and 41% saying they’ve used hand-held phones while behind the wheel.

Significantly, about a third of the young drivers said they don’t consider such activities to be dangerous.

That flies in the face of evidence showing that distracted driving accidents are responsible for 5,500 deaths on U.S. roadways each year, according to federal data.

“Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roads,” says LaHood, “and teens are especially vulnerable because of their inexperience behind the wheel and, often, peer pressure.”

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Significantly, federal statistics also reveal that crashes are the leading cause of death for teens – who are about three times more likely to be involved in fatal collisions than older motorists.

A driver texting, meanwhile, is considered 23 times more likely to have a collision.