Impact of Technology-Based Behaviors on Driving Safety

Although most drivers say they change radio stations or look for CDs or tapes while driving, just over one in three (36%) perceive this action to make driving more dangerous. Just 18% think it makes driving much more dangerous. [Figure 9-A]
While about one in four drivers drive while talking on a wireless phone, the majority of drivers perceive this activity as making driving more dangerous (a "4" or "5" on the 1 to 5 scale of "no impact" to "much more dangerous"). Two-thirds (66%) feel that taking incoming cell phone calls makes driving more dangerous, with 44% feeling it makes it much more dangerous. Drivers are even more likely to feel that making outgoing calls makes driving more dangerous, with seven in ten (70%) seeing this as at least somewhat dangerous and 48% seeing it at as making driving much more dangerous.

Navigational and crash avoidance systems are intended to make driving safer by allowing drivers to travel to unfamiliar locations without flipping through printed maps and by alerting drivers of potential crash hazards, yet two in five (39%) drivers feel that use of such systems actually makes driving more dangerous.

Nearly seven out of every eight (86%) drivers believe that using wireless remote equipment (such as PDA, or access to wireless remote email) while driving makes driving more dangerous, with 63% saying it makes driving much more dangerous. Two-thirds (66%) of drivers feel that answering or checking a pager makes driving more dangerous.

By Gender and Age

Female drivers are more likely than males to believe that potentially distracting behaviors make driving more dangerous. Females are especially more likely to feel that answering or checking a beeper is distracting (74% as compared to 56% of males). Male drivers are much more likely to engage in these types of behaviors than are females. [Figure 9-B]

Younger drivers are least likely to believe these behaviors make driving more dangerous, with the perception of danger increasing with age, though at least eight in ten drivers of all ages perceive remote Internet access while driving as dangerous. Drivers over age 64 are much more likely than others to feel that adjusting music (58%) makes driving more dangerous (as compared to about one-third of younger drivers). [Figure 9-C]

By Cell Phone Use

There is a substantial difference in the perception of the impact of cell phone use by cell phone ownership and use. While more than eight in ten drivers who do not have a cell phone believe making outgoing or taking incoming calls makes driving more dangerous (83% and 86% respectively), just half (52%) of those with cell phones (whether they use them while driving or not) feel that taking incoming calls is dangerous, and 62% feel that making outgoing calls makes driving more dangerous. [Figure 9-D]

Those who use cell phones while driving are even less likely to perceive the activity as dangerous, with just (37%) believing that taking incoming calls makes driving more dangerous, and 42% seeing outgoing calls as more dangerous.