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One In Five Drivers Check The Internet While Driving

March 3, 2011

According to insurance giant State Farm, about one in five drivers said in an informal online survey that they surf the Internet while behind the wheel.

State Farm says it will conduct a more detailed scientific study this year. 

In the November survey of 912 licensed drivers, over 19 percent admitted to accessing the Internet on a cellphone at least once a week while driving.

That compared with 74 percent who reported making or receiving calls at least once weekly while driving and 35 percent who reported sending or receiving text messages at least that frequently.

“That 19% might be underestimating the actual use of smartphones to access the Internet while driving, because the majority of the respondents were in the age range of the 30s,” Cindy Garretson, director of auto technology research at State Farm, told USA Today.

“The largest users of cellphones tend to be the younger-age population. We would be very interested to know what that number would be if the focus was on the young adult market.”

The drivers who said they surf on the Internet said they do so while stopped at a traffic light or stopped in traffic.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made distracted driving a major focus. 

Eleven states enacted bans on texting while driving last year.  There were also 30 states that prohibited it for all drivers, while eight more banned it for novice drivers.

In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and 448,000 were injured in distracted driving crashes.  Federal data showed that 18 percent of the fatalities involved cellphones as a distraction, and the under-20 age group was the most heavily involved.

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