May 30, 2013
Older, Wealthy Men Are Worst At Texting And Driving
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It´s well known that distracted driving of any kind can be potentially deadly for everyone on the road, even if the one driving safely has their cellphone pocketed. State governments have been cracking down on distracted driving, specifically using a cellphone behind the wheel, for several years now, but laws alone likely won´t completely curb this behavior.
University of Alberta sociology researcher Abu Nurullah believes there needs to be a social element involved, a sort of shaming and private policing of friends and family to keep the smartphone stowed while in the car. It is to this end that he set out to add hard data to the issue of texting and driving.
Nurullah and his colleagues have compiled a list of the types of drivers that are most likely to pick up their phones behind the wheel in hopes that those who know them will ask them to stay safe on the streets. This data set can also be useful for police and policy makers who attempt to provide legal ramifications for those who drive while distracted.
“I think the social influence is the key one. Friends, family, employers–they should be influencing others to reduce the use of cellphones while driving,” said Nurullah in a press statement.
“Effective enforcement of the laws should include not only fines for such offenses, but also mandatory lessons on the dangers of cellphone use while operating a vehicle.”
After compiling survey data from mid-2011, Nurullah and team discovered that college-educated, middle-aged men are the most likely to text and drive. Men in general were nearly ten percent more likely than women to use their phones while driving, and middle-aged people (35-44) were most likely to drive while distracted, no matter the gender. The results also found that those who lived in the lowest income bracket were also less likely to use their cellphones in the car. Conversely, those who earned more than $100,000 a year were top users. Nurullah´s research even found that non-religious drivers were also more likely to whip out their phones on the road than their church-going peers.
“These stats can be used to identify the worst offenders for effective enforcement of laws that deter cellphone use while operating a vehicle,” said Nurullah.
“Since males are more likely to undertake risky driving, it is expected that they would use cellphones more in driving situations.”
Though these results paint a clearer picture of those most likely to text and drive, it seems everyone is aware of the dangers of this behavior. The survey results found that nearly everyone who used a cellphone agreed that talking and texting in the car is dangerous and very likely to cause a collision. Only a small percentage of people disagreed with this sentiment. Nurullah believes laws and legislation alone won´t be enough to convince talkers to hang up behind the wheel.
“There should be an emphasis on educating people about this, changing people´s mindsets about doing this, because it is risky,” he said.
"There is no better alternative than social pressure because it is more effective than legal enforcement. Social media campaigns can also be designed to make people informed about safe driving practices involving the use of cellphones.”