Distracted Driving Among Young, Old Drivers Down: Study

July 25, 2011

Could it be that the message is getting through? A new study by GMAC Insurance reveals that 50 percent of all drivers--and 75 and 72 percent of the youngest and oldest drivers responding--say they’ve completely eliminated use of smartphones while driving.

In the 2011 GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, 5,130 licensed drivers aged 16-65 from 50 states and the District of Columbia were polled. Drivers answered 20 questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) exams. The results are a mix of good news and bad news.

Among the youngest drivers, those ages 16 and 17, 75 percent say they’ve cut out all use of smart phones while driving. Among the oldest drivers responding, ages 60 to 65, the figure is 72 percent. While there’s no question asking why respondents do this, GMAC Insurance says it may be explained by the fact that the top parental restriction on teenage drivers is not allowing the use of mobile phones while driving.

There’s no explanation offered as to why the oldest drivers are giving up mobile phone use behind the wheel. Maybe the 34-statewide ban on texting while driving is having some effect?

That’s the good news. The bad news is that almost two-thirds of drivers admit to making phone calls and eight in 10 say they send and check text messages when they’re stopped at a traffic light. Fifty percent admit they make calls when traffic is slow or when they’re driving on the open highway.

More bad news is that 10 percent of drivers taking the test say they send and read emails or use downloaded apps on their smart phones while they’re driving. About three percent confess to taking photos with their phones while driving. Some even update their Facebook and Twitter pages when they’re behind the wheel.

Less than one percent of those taking the test say they’ve gotten a ticket or a warning for use of a mobile device or smartphone while driving. And eight in 10 say they’ve never been distracted or even come close to having an accident due to using their mobile device when driving.

Take the GMAC National Drivers Test here and see how you do. Better yet, make sure all drivers in your family take it, too.

[GMAC Insurance via PR Newswire]

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