Many drivers who gab on their cell phones also engage in other risky behaviors while behind the wheel of their cars, according to a new study.
In the study it released today, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study shared results of a survey showing that drivers who "fairly often or regularly" used their cell phones in the previous month also were likely to speed (65 percent), drive while drowsy (44 percent) or drive without a seat belt (29 percent). More than half also reported sending a text or email.
By contrast, drivers who said they never use a cell phone were significantly less likely to exceed the speed limit or drive while drowsy and were more likely to wear a seat belt.
"What concerns AAA is this pattern of risky behavior that even goes beyond cell phone use," said Kathleen Bower of AAA. "These same cell phone-using drivers clearly understand the risk of distraction, yet are still likely to engage in a wide range of dangerous driving activities."
AAA and other organizations, including the National Transportation Safety Board, are pushing for tougher laws to prevent text messaging behind the wheel of a car.
A Safety Board investigation found that a driver involved in a deadly August 2010 chain-reaction accident on Interstate 44 had sent or received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes before the crash. Missouri bans younger drivers from texting while driving. The accident near Gray Summit left two dead and 38 injured.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety gathered the distraction data as part of its 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index, which surveyed 3,896 people ages 16 and older.
The study showed that 90 percent of people responding to the survey believe distracted driving is a bigger problem than it was three years ago, but still engage in those activities, said Peter Kissinger, president of the foundation.
"More work clearly is needed to educate motorists on the risks associated with using a cell phone while driving, especially given that most Americans believe this problem is becoming worse," he said.
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