An increasing number of drivers are reporting using the Internet while driving, a troubling trend suggested by findings from a recent State Farm survey of U.S. drivers.
Nearly half (48%) of drivers between 18 and 29 reported accessing the Internet on a cell phone while driving, an increase from 29% in 2009, according to findings from the insurer’s annual survey on distracted driving.
The trend isn’t limited to younger drivers, though. For all drivers, 21% reported using the Internet while driving, up from 13% in 2009.
The growing popularity of smartphones is likely contributing to this increase, as an increased number of respondents reporting owning and using the devices, State Farm noted.
Reading and updating social media sites was a major reason for the Internet use. Among the 18 to 29 age group, 36% reported reading social media sites, up from 21% in 2009.
Among all drivers, 15% reported reading social media sites while driving, up from 9% in 2009.
In the 18 to 29 group, checking e-mail was also a popular distraction, with 43% reporting doing it while driving.
“The mobile internet is generating another set of distractions for drivers to avoid,” Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm noted. “While the safety community is appropriately working to reduce texting while driving, we must also be concerned about the growing use of multiple mobile web services while driving.”
A majority (72%) of respondents said they strongly agree with laws or regulations against texting and e-mailing while driving, but almost two-thirds said they believe laws governing cell phone use while driving were rarely enforced.
Almost half (45%) were extremely likely to support technology that would prevent texting to talking on a cell phone while driving, according to the survey.
State Farm conducted the online survey of about 1,000 U.S. drivers over the age of 18 in July 2012. Only responses from those who had a valid driver’s license, owned a cell phone, and reported driving between one and 80 hours per week were used when reporting the findings of behavior-based questions. Responses from all respondents were used for the attitudinal questions.