Contrary to Popular Belief: Survey Reveals CA Drivers Using Cell Phone Less

New research indicates that California drivers are using their cell phones less while driving. More specifically, the percentage of drivers actively using cell phones dropped from 10.8 percent in 2012 to 7.4 percent in 2013.

However despite this decline, the survey revealed that number of drivers who were text messaging while driving rose to a troubling 2.5 percent from 1.7 percent. This is likely an increasing trend amongst drivers, especially since it is difficult to detect a texting driver who will often hide their phone in their lap or on their passenger seat and out of sight of authorities.

It should be noted that the research was conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) in conjunction with the UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center. The OTS survey was compiled by sending teams of watchers to highway off ramps and intersections in 17 counties from February through April. They observed approximately 6,000 drivers and attempted to judge how they were using their cell phones. The results are considered “low-end indicators” because of the observational limitations of watching drivers to determine whether or not they were using a cell phone.

And while the CHP and local police departments across California issued more than 57,000 cell phone tickets this past April during the annual monthly crackdown, cell phones are still being used by motorists.

As someone who drives often on our Bay Area highway and roads, I unfortunately witness motorists using their cell phones on an almost daily basis. In my experience, cell phone usage peaks during traffic hours, at red lights or in congested junctions like the MacArthur Maze or Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. The following tips from the OTS will help keep you safe from the perils of distracted driving:

  • Put your cell phone out of reach or turn it off when you get in the car so you won’t be tempted to use it.
  • Don’t call or text anyone when there is a good chance that they may be driving. If you must call or text, pull into a parking space.
  • The extra couple of minutes are worth it.
  • The ability to safely multi task while driving is myth.
  • Cell phone use actually diminishes the brain’s ability to drive safely.
  • Never check Facebook, Twitter, run an app, read or otherwise allow your full attention to leave the task of safely driving.

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