According to an analysis by Response Insurance of their national driving survey, people who use cell phones when driving are more likely to be distracted from the road even when they are not talking on a phone. The results indicate there may be a "distracted-driver personality" type behind the wheel.
According to the company, the Response Insurance National Driving Distractions Survey compared attentiveness of cell phone users to non-users when not talking on a phone. When asked a series of questions about different topics that might take their attention from the road, people who use cell phones were significantly more likely to be distracted when thinking about every-day issues and concerns than drivers who do not use cell phones while driving.
When compared to drivers who do not talk on cell phones, drivers who use cell phones are 56 percent more likely to be distracted behind the wheel while thinking about what to eat; 36 percent more likely to be distracted thinking about relationship issues; 32 percent more likely to be distracted when thinking about their jobs; 27 percent more likely to be distracted when thinking about health concerns; 21 percent more likely to be distracted when thinking about family issues, and 19 percent more likely to be distracted when thinking about money issues or bills.
If, as the survey indicates, certain people are more likely to be distracted behind the wheel, recent attention to cell phone use may be missing the larger problem of driver inattention, says the company.
"From the time we issued our first survey, we said that cell phones were only one part of a societal trend of multi-tasking while driving and a general lack of attention to the road," said Mory Katz, chairman of Response Insurance. "Our analysis points to what could be a chronic inattentiveness problem for a specific group of drivers. We hope this information sets the stage for additional research and much more driver education in this area."
Response Insurance is a direct-to-the customer auto insurance company that sponsored the survey that launched the national debate on driving distractions and cell phone use. That 1999 survey provided the first detailed and scientific look at the distracting nature of various activities and their likelihood of contributing to accidents, says the company.
This new analysis is based on a statistically valid survey that included 1,046 interviews conducted among a nationally representative sample of adults 18 years of age and included 525 drivers who use cell phones and 420 non- users. The margin of error for this study is +/- 3 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. The survey was sponsored by Response Insurance in 2001, developed with Leflein Associates, and fielded by Opinion Research Corporation International. The analysis was conducted June 2003.