Study: High-Risk Car Insurance Group Most Likely to Drive Distracted

Teenager talking on phone while drivingA new collaborative report from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and Consumer Reports shows that younger drivers are the most likely to engage in the distracted driving practice of using a handheld cell phone behind the wheel, and that this demographic is relatively unconcerned with the dangers of doing so.

The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 respondents in November 2010, showed that only a little over one-third of the drivers under 30 years old were very concerned about the issue of distracted driving. In addition, only 30 percent felt it was very dangerous to talk on the phone while driving.

It also showed that more than 60 percent of under-30 drivers had used a handheld phone while driving in the 30 days before taking the survey. Only about 40 percent of older respondents had reported doing so.

The fact that younger drivers–a traditionally high risk auto insurance group–appear to be engaging in the practice more frequently is especially startling.

“Distracted driving has become a deadly epidemic on America’s roads, and teens are especially vulnerable because of their inexperience behind the wheel and, often, peer pressure,” said Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood upon release of the study.

According to the Department of Transportation, in 2009 nearly 1,000 people were fatally injured in accidents that involved the use of a cell phone.

The Consumer Reports and DOT report comes on the heels of an announcement from State Farm Insurance saying that 1 in 5 respondents to a survey of more than 900 drivers had actually surfed the Internet while driving.

Along with Secretary LaHood, a number of car insurance companies have launched numerous anti–distracted driving campaigns in the past year.

Allstate has launched a handful of campaigns aimed at getting teens to put down the phone when getting behind the wheel. The insurance company has teamed up with celebrities as part of its “X the Txt” campaign, promoted the idea of choosing a “designated texter” before getting behind the wheel and has put on drives in which younger drivers pledge not to text behind the wheel.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has reported that motorists who use hand-held devices behind the wheel “are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.”

State Farm has supported Miss South Dakota, Loren Vaillancourt, in her travels across the state to speak about the dangers of distracted driving. Vaillancourt lost her brother in an accident that involved a distracted driver.

About Matthew Morisset
Matthew Morisset is a proud alumnus of the University of Redlands, where he obtained a degree in English Literature. Utilizing his passion for analysis and writing, Matthew looks for important trends in the auto insurance industry and their implications for consumers and the market as a whole.

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