Today, 80 percent of drivers own a smartphone.

Today, 80 percent of drivers own a smartphone. 

Among drivers who admit to using a cell phone behind the wheel, 63 percent said they’re more likely to use the phone when stopped at a red light, according to a new State Farm survey.

The insurance company’s sixth annual distracted-driving survey also found that 30 percent of motorists who use a cell phone while driving said they’re more likely to use the phone on an open highway.

One particularly troubling finding in the survey: At least 10 percent of respondents reported that driving in school zones and construction zones has no impact on their cell phone use.

On the other hand, survey respondents indicated they are less likely to use the cell phone under these conditions:

  • Dark outside – 75 percent
  • Fog – 91 percent
  • Snow – 92 percent
  • Icy conditions – 93 percent
  • Heavy traffic – 78 percent
  • Construction zone – 87 percent
  • Rain – 88 percent
  • School zone – 83 percent.

“It’s interesting to see that many drivers report assessing driving conditions when they make choices regarding using their cell phones," said Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm. "However, we want to remind people that there are demands on their attention when driving whether moving or not, and to please stay 100 percent focused on their drive."

For six years, State Farm has conducted surveys focused on people’s attitudes and behaviors related to cell phone use while driving. According to State Farm, a few trends have emerged:

  • The number of drivers who talk on a handheld cell phone has steadily declined.
  • The number of people who report texting while driving has remained stable over six years.
  • Smartphone ownership is growing. In 2011, 52 percent of drivers reported owning a smartphone, and by 2014 that number grew to 80 percent.
  • The greatest increases in smartphone ownership are among adults age 40 and older.
  • Smartphones create new distractions. There is a significant increase over six years in drivers using their phones for accessing the Internet, reading e-mail, responding to e-mail, programming and listening to a navigation system and reading social media.
  • Drivers are more likely to talk on a handheld phone than they are to text message while driving. Both of these activities are the greatest for drivers ages 18-29.
  • There has been an increase in the percentage of drivers who say they talk on a hands-free cell phone while driving. This is possibly due to advances in hands-free technology and enactment of laws restricting hand-held use.

"These six-year trends make it apparent that smartphones have created many new distractions for drivers to juggle," Mullen said. "While much attention is paid to the dangers of talking and texting while driving, it's critical that we also address the increasing use of other smartphone features and other sources of distraction."

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet