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BizReport : : May 21, 2015

Smartphone use behind the wheel grows to include multiple activities

Texting or making phone-calls behind the wheel has long been shown to cause careless, or dangerous, driving. However, a new survey commissioned by AT&T reveals that behind-the-wheel activities are a lot more varied with drivers admitting to taking selfies and even engaging in video chat.

by Helen Leggatt

A survey of more than 2,000 U.S. citizens who own a smartphone and get behind the wheel of a vehicle at least once a day has revealed the somewhat alarming habits of today's connected drivers.

Capturing video, taking photographs, using social media, and even using video chat are all being done while in control of a vehicle.

More than a quarter of survey respondents age 16 to 65 said they use Facebook while driving, and 14% use Twitter. Of those who Tweet while driving a third (30%) said they do it "all the time". Ten percent said they use Instagram or Snapchat. Of those who feel it necessary to use social media while in charge of a vehicle, 22% said they did so because they felt addicted.

Perhaps more shocking are those who take part in video chat while driving, something one in 10 admitted to. In what might be seen as a reflection of the selfishness of operating a mobile device while driving, 17% admitted to taking selfies while behind the wheel.

Of those who shoot videos with their smartphone from behind the wheel (12%), more than a quarter (27%) believed they could do so safely. "You're an accident waiting to happen," said Lori Lee, AT&T's senior executive vice president for global marketing.

Ultimately, it is texting that remains the most common activity, something that 61% of respondents admitted to, followed by 33% who use email and 28% who surf the mobile Internet.

Smartphone use continues despite campaigns that draw drivers' attention to the consequences. The Ad Council has collaborated with the office of the State Attorneys General and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to create a texting and driving prevention campaign.

They reveal that texting takes a driver's eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds, enough time to travel the length of a football field at a speed of 55mph. Reaching for a phone, dialing, texting and other activities increases the risk of a car accident by 3 times, while 11% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as being distracted.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: driving, research, safety, smartphone, social media, video

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