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A wake-up for distracted drivers

By Crissinda Ponder ·
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Posted: 9 am ET

If you've taken your eyes off the road to send a quick text or reach for that take-out menu in your back seat, let the guilt trip begin.

Nearly two-thirds of drivers admit to engaging in at least one distracted driving behavior on a daily basis, according to a new survey by Plymouth Rock Assurance, an insurance group based in the Northeast. And, since others who drive distracted may not be willing to admit it, the problem may be even worse than the survey indicates, the group says.

What's grabbing our attention?

Th© Warren Goldswain/Shutterstock.come behaviors that distracted drivers admitted to engaging in most frequently include:

  • Changing radio stations (84 percent).
  • Talking with passengers (76 percent).
  • Eating or drinking (65 percent).
  • Texting (56 percent).
  • Making and receiving calls, sans hands-free device (48 percent).

The survey also found that more than half of drivers have witnessed other motorists texting with at least one adult passenger in the car, and more than one-third -- 38 percent -- have witnessed drivers texting with at least one child passenger.

Looking the other way

Depending on the situation, at least 70 percent (and sometimes more) of the respondents admitted to doing nothing when they witnessed distracted drivers in action.

But that's the wrong answer, says Chris Olie, president and CEO of Plymouth Rock Assurance. Even if you don't engage in distracted driving, the consequences still affect you.

"Distracted driving is a major contributor to accidents, which drive up insurance rates for individuals and the population as a whole," he says.

Potentially deadly consequences

April was designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month. As the month comes to a close, it's important to remember that distractions can lead to serious accidents. A North Carolina woman recently lost her life just seconds after using her cellphone to post a Facebook status while she was behind the wheel.

Thirty-two-year-old Courtney Ann Sanford posted, "The happy song makes me HAPPY!" -- possibly referring to the popular single by musician Pharrell Williams -- before crossing a highway median and colliding with a truck, according to media reports.

"In a matter of seconds, a life was over just so she could notify some friends that she was happy," Lt. Chris Weisner of the High Point, North Carolina, police department told WGHP-TV.

Do you tend to rack up traffic violations? Check out the five tickets that impact your car insurance premium the most.

Follow me on Twitter @CrissiPonder.

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