BLOOMINGTON, Illinois — Drivers are talking on phones behind the wheel less frequently but surfing the Internet and connecting to social media more often, according to a new study from State Farm.
The insurance provider's annual Distracted Driving Survey questioned 1,000 U.S. adults about their driving behavior and found that while holding phone conversations has decreased by 14 percent since 2009, using a smartphone to surf the Web and access social media has more than doubled.
Meanwhile, the study determined that texting while driving has stayed relatively constant over the same period of time.
Of those surveyed, 51 percent said they talk on the phone while operating a vehicle, compared to 65 percent in 2009; 29 percent connect to the Internet, up from 13 percent; and 36 percent admit to texting, compared to 31 percent in the 2009 study.
Despite a significant number of respondents engaging in these behaviors behind the wheel, 95 percent of them said they find surfing the Web at least somewhat distracting, and 94 percent said the same thing about texting.
"It's interesting to observe how the number and types of distractions available on cellphones have grown over the years we have conducted this annual survey," said Chris Mullen, director of Technology Research for State Farm, in a statement. "We want to remind people that despite these and other demands on your attention when driving, please stay 100 percent focused on your drive."
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in the most recent year for which data are available.
Concluded Mullen: "Potential solutions lie in a combination of education and awareness, technology, regulation and enforcement."
Edmunds says: Distraction behind the wheel remains a serious problem, yet surveys like this indicate that large numbers of drivers continue to engage in this careless behavior.