DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images
An Indian man talks on his mobile phone as he drives past a traffic awareness poster on the side of a busy road in Bangalore on January 27, 2011.AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Speeding and aggressiveness have taken a backseat this year to cell phones as talking and texting have topped the list of the biggest safety concerns in the minds of California drivers.
That’s the result of a survey released Thursday by California's Office of Traffic Safety. The report is only in its second year, and has already seen a dramatic turnaround in the concerns of its questioned drivers.
In 2010, 22 percent of drivers thought that speeding and aggressive driving were the biggest problems, followed by cell phone talking and texting, which only totaled 19 percent combined. This year, however, speeding and aggressive driving dropped to 17 percent, while those worried about cell phone use more than doubled to 40 percent.
Drunk driving was next on the list, replacing last year’s “bad roads,” with 12.6 percent of respondents considering it most dangerous.
“This second year of surveying the opinions and habits of California’s drivers shows how quickly they react to the real problems we all face on the road,” said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy in a press release by the OTS. “This information provides us with unique insight into the concerns of Californians. It is very telling that we’ve seen such a shift in opinions on cell phone use in just one year.”
Chris Cochran in the Office of Traffic Safety added that drunk driving actually kills more people than any other potential list-topper. However, deaths as a result of distracted driving are indeed increasing.
“It’s the newness of the cell phone use that really has both made the problem grow very quickly," said Cochran. "And the public’s perception of it has also grown.”
Fifty percent of the nearly 1800 surveyed said that they have made driving mistakes while talking on cell phones. And sixty percent say that they have been hit or nearly hit by other drivers who were talking or texting.