New Auto Club Study Shows Texting While Driving Is on the Rise Texting and the use of smart phones are on the rise. This fact of modern life has taken on new importance because their use affects public safety. For example, different studies show that texting while driving increases the risk of a crash eightfold. That’s why, in January 2009, California became the seventh state in the nation to ban the practice.
The Auto Club has been monitoring cell phone and other handheld device use since June 2008. Until recently, the results have been promising: Handheld cell phone use while driving declined from 9 percent at any time before the state’s ban in July 2009 to 3–4 percent, and texting while driving remained below the 1.4 percent mark observed before the law went into effect.
But the Auto Club’s August 2010 survey results are disturbing. Although the level of handheld cell phone use on the road (monitored at seven Southern California locations) held constant at 3.7 percent, texting and the use of other handheld devices while driving increased to 2.7 percent—nearly double where it was before California’s ban went into effect.
The biggest violators: 4.3 percent of young women were seen texting. Texting by young men stood at 2.1 percent. By contrast, 3.1 percent of young men were seen using smart phones or other handheld devices while driving, versus 1.6 percent of young women.
This data doesn’t mean that texting bans don’t work. It’s just that a ban’s effects might be masked by an enormous rise in texting overall.
Clearly, something needs to be done—more education, more enforcement, stronger penalties, more awareness of the dangers of texting while driving. Help keep the roads safe for yourself and for others by following these tips.
-Turn off your cell phone and other electronic devices prior to any trip.
-Don’t answer texts or calls while driving. Consider getting a cell phone application that notifies callers you will return messages later.
-Be a positive role model: Don’t text or talk on a cell phone while driving.