July 30, 2014

Who are the most frequent texting/talking drivers? Not your kids…

A new study contains a big surprise about who’s to blame for distracted, dangerous driving. Most of us are quick to blame technology-loving teenagers for talking or texting behind the wheel and causing wrecks, but that’s wrong.

Gail Weinholzer, spokeswoman for AAA-Nebraska, says the motor club’s survey finds drivers between 16 and 18 are safer — and rank fourth among problem drivers.

Weinholzer says, “The group most likely to be talking on the cell phone and/or texting while driving is actually the 25-to-39-year-old range, with the brackets around them, the 19-to-24 and the 40-to-59, being the second-most likely.”

The survey found practically all drivers admit to using the phone while driving, at least occasionally. Even about a-third of drivers 75 and over confess to talking on the cell while behind the wheel.

It’s a a real U-turn, Weinholzer says, as teens evidently –are– getting the message from mom and dad, in addition to the various state laws that restrict teens’ use of technology while driving.

“Statute and parental involvement seems to wane significantly once you get past that 18-year-old age,” Weinholzer says. “As a result, you’re seeing people who should know better actually engaging in these activities far more than the teens we tend to blame.”

It’s discouraging, she says, that cell phone usage picks up when drivers gain more experience, as using a phone can lead to dangerous distractions for drivers.

“We do know over 90% of all crashes involve some sort of driver error,” she says, “and we do know that use of technology behind the wheel does quadruple your risk of being in a crash.”

The survey found two out of three drivers reported using a cell while driving within the past month. Forty-three percent of adults ages 25-to-39 reported doing so fairly often or regularly while driving, compared to only 20% of teens. Motorists age 60 and up were the least likely to report using a phone.