Beyond Texting: Distracted Driving Includes Selfies, PDA & Grooming

Although texting while driving remains a top driving distraction, a recent survey from Erie Insurance found that there are a variety of activities happening behind the wheel that could lead to impending accidents. The online survey of 1,915 U.S. drivers aged 18 and older was conducted in February by Harris Poll on behalf of the insurance provider.

“A distraction is anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the wheel, or their mind off their primary task of driving safely,” said Doug Smith, senior vice president of personal lines at Erie Insurance. “Our survey found drivers unfortunately are engaging in a wide range of distracting and potentially dangerous behaviors.”

Erie Insurance said that besides overt phone distractions like texting and talking while driving, survey responders also admitted to: public displays of affection, personal grooming, taking selfies, putting in contact lenses or eye drops, curling eyelashes, scratching off lottery tickets, and even playing the guitar.

Based on the survey, here are distracted driving behaviors and the percentage of drivers who revealed they engaged in the activity:

  • Romantic encounter/PDA: 15%
  • Combing/styling hair: 15%
  • Changing clothes: 9%
  • Putting on make-up: 8%
  • Brushing/flossing teeth: 4%
  • Taking selfies: 4%
  • Changing drivers: 3%
  • Going to the bathroom: 3%

The survey also confirmed that texting while driving remains a serious problem with about 30 percent of drivers reporting that they, themselves, have texted while driving, and almost 75 percent saying that they have seen other drivers do it.In addition, the survey uncovered regional differences as well as distinctions between gender and age. According to the results, drivers in the Northeast text the least, men are more likely to text than women, and younger drivers text more.

Texting while Driving by Region:

  • Midwest: 28%
  • South: 35%
  • West: 30%
  • Northeast: 24%

Texting while Driving by Gender:

  • Female: 28%
  • Male: 32%

Texting while Driving by Age:

  • 18-34: 51%
  • 35-44: 39%
  • 45-54: 33%
  • 55-64: 14%
  • 65 and older: 7%

According to U.S. government statistics, in 2012, more than 420,000 people were injured in car crashes involving distracted driving and more than 3,300 people were killed. In 2013, Erie Insurance analyzed police data and found that daydreaming was the most fatal distracted driving behavior behind the wheel.

Erie Insurance released its findings in conjunction with National Distracted Driving Awareness month in April to bring attention to distracted driving behaviors and their dangerous threat to roadway safety.

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