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New study: Driving alone, we check the phone

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ROCKFORD, Mich. -- According to AT&T, we're more likely to drive distracted when we're alone, texting, fiddling with the GPS, and talking on the phone.

According to new research, 64 percent of drivers are willing to check their phone while driving solo. But when someone else is in the vehicle, only 36 percent of drivers look at their phones. When that passenger is a child, the percentage drops to 30 percent.

Michigan State Police trooper Pete Fimbinger from the Rockford Post says that there's at least one car crash a day in the greater Grand Rapids area that involves a distracted driver.

AT&T, one of the leading cell phone companies, has released a powerful public service announcement that drives home the message that even when we're alone in the car we are never alone on the road.

Awareness of the dangers of distracted driving "needs to start with children, not when they’re teens," says Fimbinger. "Mom and dad need to be good examples for their children and not driving distracted."

Not only is distracted driving dangerous, it's illegal. It could cost you up $100 for first offenders and $200 for second offenders.

Trooper Finbinger believes people don't take the law seriously, believing it's just a civil infraction that doesn't have serious consequences. But when someone else is with them, drivers "think twice. I’d say they need to think twice when they’re by themselves as well."

AT&T's 30- PSA is part of their It Can Wait campaign. (Watch the full video.)

The campaign has yielded results in the 6 years since the It Can Wait campaign was launched:

  • Achieved more than 10 million pledges to not drive distracted.
  • Helped grow awareness of the dangers of smartphone distracted driving to more than 90% of audiences surveyed.
  • Collaborated with AT&T data scientists on research that shows how statewide anti-texting laws impact the rate of texting while driving.

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  • michaeljmcfadden

    People have no idea how dangerous texting is compared other things that they consider (rightly or wrongly) to be “dangerous.” If you take the EPA risk figures for secondhand smoke exposure and compare sitting in a car with someone who smokes one cigarette per hour to sitting in a car while the driver engages in one texting episode per hour, it turns out that sitting with the texting driver is literally FOURTEEN *THOUSAND* times as dangerous! You’d have to ride with an active smoker for an hour a day every workday for roughly THIRTY YEARS to be exposed to the same risk as a single ride with a driver who engages in a single text message. And yet the police will pull a car over for smoking with someone under 18 or 21 in the vehicle, but let the texting driver whiz by.

    – MJM (Figures from 1993 EPA Report and from Dr. Fernando Wilson’s research on texting risks.)

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