Survey: Distractions still on the rise

Drivers continue to reduce their use of handheld cell phones for talking, while text messaging is on the rise, according to a nationwide survey.

Teenager with iPhone driving distractedThe annual survey sponsored by State Farm also found year-to-year increases in usage of the Internet and, specifically, social network web sites.

Among drivers 18-29, however, increases in electronic communications activity were found from 2014 to 2015 in cell phone talking, texting, GPS programming, the Internet and social media.

“Younger age groups perceive many of these behaviors as less distracting and report being more likely to participate in these behaviors compared to older age groups,” the insurance company’s outside researchers said.

Among the younger drivers, smartphone ownership continues to increase, with penetration at 99 percent. “Nearly all adults under 40 years of age reported having a smartphone in 2015,” the researchers found.

“This increase in ownership enables more drivers to take part in smartphone-related distracted driving, which can at least partly explain the observed increases in these behaviors.”

More than half of those surveyed said laws regarding cell phone use and texting were minimally enforced. The drivers generally supported laws restricting use of cell phones.

Other findings:

  • Sixty-two percent of drivers who use their cell phone while behind the wheel reported that being stopped at a red light makes them more likely to use the phone.
  • Over a quarter of respondents said they were more likely to use their cell phone when driving on a highway/interstate compared with other types of roads and traffic conditions.
  • Almost half said they would stop texting & driving if they caused an accident while engaging in the communication. Only 13 percent said the law was a deterrent.
  • Drivers under 30 were twice as likely as all drivers to take photos while behind the wheel. Almost a quarter of the younger drivers reported taking smartphone videos.

The State Farm survey, in its seventh year, involved 1,000 consumers age 18 and older who said they had insurance. They were surveyed in July.


  1. This will not stop until penalties are severe enough that all drivers RE-consider allowing the distractions to take them from driving. Until then State Farm makes its fortune on the crashes; while victims, like me, pay the price: thousands of dollars and pain.

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