September 7, 2009

1 in 6 drivers distracted in school zones

One of every six drivers in U.S. school zones is distracted by cell phones, eating, drinking, smoking, reaching, grooming and reading, U.S. researchers say.

The study by Safe Kids USA found that drivers who are not wearing a seatbelt are 34 percent more likely to be distracted than belted drivers, afternoon drivers are 22 percent more likely to be distracted than morning drivers and females are 21 percent more likely to be distracted than males.

Moira Donahue of Safe Kids USA said the study involved more than 40,000 observational road-side surveys conducted by local Safe Kids researchers in 20 locations across the United States.

Use of electronics such as cell phones, personal digital assistants and Smartphones are the leading category of distraction, Donahue said.

The public expects drivers to be on their best behavior when they are near schools, however the new study shows the opposite is true when it comes to distracted driving, Donahue said in a statement. With recent research demonstrating that the driving skills of a distracted driver are as bad as or worse than an intoxicated driver, the overall relevance of this study is clear. Almost one in six drivers in a school zone behaves like a drunk driver.