Survey points to unsettling truth: Many drivers just don't get it about distracted driving

Texting while driving is banned for all drivers in Alabama, but a survey released earlier this year suggests that drivers throughout the country are still not getting the message that using a handheld device while behind the wheel can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.

A number of years ago, AT&T started the "It Can Wait" campaign to discourage distracted driving. As part of that campaign, the phone company commisioned a survey of more than 2,000 smartphone owners who operate a motor vehicle at least once a day. The respondents' answers may shock you.

Sixty-one percent of those surveyed confessed to texting while driving, but texting wasn't the only dangerous smartphone activity reported. Thirty-three percent said they emailed; 28 percent did Internet searches; 27 percent used Facebook; 17 percent took selfies; 14 percent used Twitter; and about 10 percent said they used Instagram and Snapchat -- all while driving.

A particularly startling revelation came from those drivers who said they tweeted from behind the wheel. Of those individuals, 30 percent said they tweet "all the time" while driving.

To put the problem in perspective, consider some statistics. According to Distraction.gov, 3,154 deaths were due to distracted driving in 2013, and that same year, distracted driving resulted in 424,000 injuries.

Could it be that as the number of smartphones increases, so increases the risk of distracted driving accidents? Or is it possible to educate drivers about the devastating consequences distracted driving can have?

In these matters, one thing is certain: personal negligence can lead to personal injury.

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