Almost all U.S. drivers surveyed believe texting while driving is dangerous and such practices should be banned, according to a new study commissioned by the Ford Motor Co.
Eighty-six percent of U.S. drivers defined texting while driving as "very dangerous," and 93 percent support a nationwide ban on texting, the study found. Conversely, only 42 percent believe drivers would actually stop texting if the practice was banned.
However, more than 74 percent said there would be more compliance with such a ban if hands-free or voice-activated technologies were available, the survey stated.
Ford commissioned the study as part of research into distracted driving impacts. The online survey was conducted Sept. 18-21 by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates and included 1,000 licensed drivers.
The car company has endorsed a proposed nationwide ban on handheld texting introduced by Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY).
“Research shows that activity that draws drivers’ eyes away from the road for an extended period while driving, such as text messaging, substantially increases the risk of accidents,” said Jim Vondale, director of Ford’s Automotive Safety Office. “That is why we support a nationwide ban on handheld texting while driving and why Ford has developed hands-free and voice-activated technologies to allow drivers to remain connected, but to do so while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.”
The survey shows that 67 percent of drivers said they believed voice-activated technology is a safe alternative to texting, and 76 percent said such a feature would be an appealing feature in a car.
Many drivers don’t understand the laws in their own states regarding cell phone use and/or texting while driving, the survey found. As of now, 18 states have enacted such bans but nearly 40 percent of drivers in these states indicated they were unaware of the ban in their own state.
According to government studies, 80 percent of all accidents involve driver inattention, where drivers take their eyes off the road, even if for a few seconds, the study said.
“A growing number of drivers are using handheld wireless communications and music-playing devices while driving,” said Dr. Louis Tijerina, Ford senior technical specialist. “Research clearly shows that manual operation of those devices that takes the driver’s eyes from the road for an extended period of time creates the kind of distraction that causes accidents.”
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