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More Drivers Than Ever Use the Internet While Driving

by on November 16, 2012

A new study by State Farm surveyed nearly 1,000 drivers about their phone behaviors behind the wheel, and the results reveal some disturbing trends.

Just within the last three years, Internet activity among young drivers ages 18-29 has skyrocketed. In 2009, only 29 percent of young people accessed the Internet from a cell phone while driving. By 2012, however, this number reached 48 percent. The number of young drivers browsing social media networks increased from 21 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in 2012, while those updating their social networks increased 10 percent in a two year period. Emailing behind the wheel also jumped from 32 percent in 2009 to 43 percent this year.

Although young drivers have traditionally taken the blame for distracted driving, the study shows that Internet usage while driving is becoming a problem for people of all ages. The increased popularity of smartphones is the main culprit behind the texting and Internet use epidemic, State Farm says.

“The mobile Internet is generating another set of distractions for drivers to avoid,” said Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm. “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.”

Among drivers of all ages, Internet usage while driving has increased. In 2009, 13 percent of all drivers admitted to surfing the Internet behind the wheel. This number has increased to 21 percent this year. Reading and updating social media networks are two behaviors that are also on the rise among all drivers. The rate of drivers checking social media sites rose from 9 percent to 15 percent in 2012, and 4 percent more drivers admitted to actively updating their pages while driving.

Even though so many drivers use messaging behind the wheel, 72 percent of drivers would support laws that prohibit texting or emailing while driving. However, two-thirds of drivers said they believe these laws are rarely enforced.

In 2010, 3,092 motorists were killed due to distracted driving. Over 416,000 motorists are injured every year. Find more stats on distracted driving.

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