Survey says drivers talking, texting less

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new U.S. survey shows that drivers are changing their in-vehicle behavior due to legislation and increased awareness of distracted driving.

According to a Nationwide Insurance survey, 20 percent of drivers with cell phones say they text while driving. That number jumps to 47 percent for drivers under the age of 35. But of those who admit to texting behind the wheel, 40 percent say they do it less often than they did last year.

"This is the first survey we’ve seen showing drivers making positive changes in their behavior, but there are still too many drivers who either don’t realize just how dangerous distractions behind the wheel are, or are willing to take that risk," says Bill Windsor, Nationwide’s associate vice president of Consumer Safety.

"The stigma now associated with distracted driving may also have fewer people willing to admit they do it, but studies continue to indicate that DWD causes one out of every four U.S. crashes."

According to the telephone survey of 1,005 U.S. adults, 67 percent of drivers admit to talking on their cell phone while driving. Of those who do, 30 percent say they do it less often than they did last year.

The survey found that those who own touch screen cell phones 9about one in four drivers) are also more likely to talk and text while driving.

While hands-free technology is readily available, two-thirds (65 percent) of drivers who admit to talking on cell phones while driving say they rarely or never use the devices.

Bans on talking and texting are becoming the norm across North America. In the U.S. President Obama recently declared distracted driving a "deadly" worldwide "epidemic." His administration recently announced the implementation a nation-wide rule restricting truck drivers from texting from behind the wheel.

"This survey shows that it is likely that when handheld cell phone laws are passed that a number of people will switch to hands-free devices and their usage of the phones will actually go up," said Windsor.

Phones, of course, aren’t the only in-cab distraction. According to the survey, 18 percent of drivers have programmed a GPS device while driving. Only 29 percent said they eat or drink while driving, only 19 percent look for stations on the radio, 6 percent smoke while driving, 3 percent said they put on makeup and 2 percent admitted they read while driving.

— with files from

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