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Drivers Still Multitasking Behind the Wheel, Survey Shows

April 14, 2016

IRVINE, Calif. —While nearly every state in the United States, as well as Washington D.C., has laws prohibiting the use of mobile phones while driving, a new survey by Kelley Blue Book reveals that 61% of drivers continue to multi-task from behind the wheel.

The 2016 Kelley Blue Book Distracted Driving Awareness survey, released today by KBB.com, also revealed that nearly half (47 percent) of respondents have used their phone while driving on roads or residential streets. Additionally, 40% of respondents said they have used their phones while cruising the highway, while 86% said they have used their phone while at a stop light or in heavy traffic.

Talking on the phone and using the navigation system were the highest rated activities reported at 78% and 71%, respectively. Texting came in third at 67%, followed by using music apps (47%) and using social media (31%).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 25% of all crashes involve some form of driver distraction, and drivers under the age of 20 have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes. In fact, nearly three quarters of survey respondents (71%) believe that cell phone usage is the biggest threat facing today’s teen drivers, with drinking and driving (18%) and reckless driving (10%) rating as a distant second and third, respectively.

According to Distraction.gov, the average time a driver takes their eyes off the road while texting is five seconds. When traveling at 55 mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. Millennial drivers report the highest rates of texting (74%) and checking social media sites (36%) while driving. However, young people are not the only drivers reaching for their phones. The survey reveals that Baby Boomers lead the pack, reporting the highest rate overall of talking on the phone while driving (87%), followed by Gen X (83%) and Millenials (76%).

“We all know that texting while driving is a serious distraction, but it isn’t the only reason drivers are taking their eyes off the road,” said Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “With the increase of in-car technology, there are more distractions vying for a driver’s attention. Whether it is in-dash navigation, music apps or voice command call or text, more and more drivers are multi-tasking behind the wheel as opposed to focusing on the road.”

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