Startling findings from a recent survey conducted by Erie Insurance Group, a Fortune 500 Company based in Erie, Pennsylvania, have highlighted that despite the majority of states banning texting while driving, a shocking 27% of Americans still believe that it is considered socially acceptable to do so.
Erie Insurance Group is committed to protecting its customers’ lives, which is why it commissioned this survey to draw attention to the problem of texting while driving. Bob Buckel, Vice President & Product Manager of Erie Insurance, highlighted the vision of the company: “we want to not only insure our customers’ cars but also protect their lives. That is why we’re drawing attention to the problem of texting while driving.”
The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults revealed that almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents found texting while driving socially unacceptable, and almost 90% said that they would ask a driver to stop texting if they were a passenger in their vehicle. Speaking up can make a difference, and Erie Insurance believes that raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving is crucial to reducing the number of accidents on the road.
Bob emphasized that making texting while driving socially unacceptable is within reach if all of us speak up when others drive distracted. Underscoring the need to speak up and make a difference, Bob underlined, “One in five American drivers (20%) say they have been told by a passenger to stop texting while they were driving. Of those, 10% kept on doing it anyway. About half (47%) stopped but did it again later when that passenger was not in the vehicle with them. Forty-three percent, however, stopped texting and never did it again.”
These findings clearly indicate that all of us have the power to change others’ driving behaviors if we choose to speak up. To help those who are hesitant to speak up, Erie Insurance reached out to a psychology professor. “If you are in a car and the driver starts texting, you could say, ‘it looks like you really need to be texting someone right now, so why don’t you let me drive? I can drive and you can text, and once we get to our destination, you can get back into the driver’s seat,” said Stanislaw Kolek, visiting Assistant Professor, Allegheny College, Meadville, Pa. “It’s a way to get them to realize that the behavior is not wanted and that you’ve already come up with a solution. Asking them if you can be the driver in that situation is usually a very non-antagonistic way of getting yourself out of a dangerous situation.”
Putting things in context for clarity, Bob explained that according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); texting while driving takes your eyes off the road for five seconds, which is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed when traveling at 55mph. This is a sobering thought that should give everyone pause before picking up their phone while driving.
Bob hopes that by raising awareness of the dangers of texting while driving, more people will speak up and discourage others from engaging in this hazardous behavior. With everyone’s cooperation, the roads can become safer for everyone. Remember, if you see someone texting while driving, speak up – it could save a life.
Author : Muhammad Ali, PhD Student, Journalism Studies, University of Colorado-Boulder