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Driven to Distraction

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author photo by Autotrader October 2010

American motorists continue to multi-task while driving, in spite of warnings about the potential dangers. According to an online poll conducted by Kelley Blue Book, 22 percent of the nearly 7,700 respondents reported using a hand-held cell phone over the past 30 days; 10 percent said they used some sort of hands-free mobile device.

In addition, Kelley Blue Book found that, in the past 30 days, 21 percent had eaten while driving and 13 percent admitted to texting when behind the wheel. Other activities by those who participated in the survey include fiddling with the navigation system (12 percent) and using iPods (seven percent). Personal grooming and reading e-mail each accounted for five percent. Only six percent of respondents said they had engaged in none of the above while driving; nearly one percent confessed to having done all of them.

Operating a hand-held cell phone is illegal in nine states and the District of Columbia, and text messaging is banned for drivers in 30 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The spotlight on distracted driving has been increasing. And no wonder – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says nearly 5,500 people died and 448,000 were injured in distracted driving-related accidents on American highways last year. The administration also reported this eye-popping statistic: 18 percent of those fatalities and five percent of the injuries involved the use of a cell phone.

James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said the temptations to engage in distracted driving behaviors is understandable, given the rise of in-vehicle gadgets and today’s on-the-go lifestyles. “It is going to take a joint effort by automakers in their new product technology development, government agencies like the NHTSA and, most importantly, drivers themselves to enforce a balance between connectivity and responsible driving to ensure safety on the roads,” said Bell.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Driven to Distraction - Autotrader