“From these findings, it’s evident that there’s still a major problem with distracted driving on our roads”
Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation, a leading home and personal auto insurance carrier serving New Hampshire, today released findings from the company’s New Hampshire Distracted Driving Study. The study was conducted to measure the awareness of and response to the state’s distracted driving laws, which prohibit motorists from texting while driving. Study results show that while the majority of respondents (60 percent) are aware of the law, only 12 percent who admitted to texting and driving say they are willing to stop.
The study, representing licensed drivers of all ages from across New Hampshire, revealed that more than 22 percent of drivers have read or sent a text message while driving. Of the respondents who admitted to having texted while driving, 52 percent had done so in the past six months. Nearly half (47 percent) of drivers between the ages of 17 and 44 admitted to texting while driving, which was more than three times that of drivers over the age of 45.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) defines distracted driving at Distraction.gov as “any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving.” According to the DoT, 3,331 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, up from 3,267 in 2010. Specifically, text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
“From these findings, it’s evident that there’s still a major problem with distracted driving on our roads,” said Chris Olie, CEO of Mt. Washington Assurance. “We’re trying to help change the current way of thinking – distracted driving isn’t limited to just texting. As an insurance provider, we’d like to promote and reward safe driving behaviors, and we think the first step to safer driving is educating the motorists who are out and about every day. We’re hopeful that studies like this will be eye-opening for motorists.”
Grassroots efforts to change distracted driving behavior could prove difficult in New Hampshire, as most passengers (74 percent) are reluctant to ask drivers to put their mobile devices down while their cars are in motion. However, the single noticeable factor that serves as a deterrent for texting while driving is having a child in the car. Of those who participated in the study, 80 percent noted that they would not text while there were passengers 13 years of age or younger in the car.
Other notable findings include:
- The most common behaviors revealed in this study were those not typically associated with distracted driving. Those behaviors included talking with other passengers (96 percent), tuning the radio (92 percent), eating and drinking (84 percent) and reaching for items on the front seat (85 percent).
- More than half of male drivers (51 percent) who text do so mostly for work reasons, while the majority (63 percent) of women who text do so mainly for personal reasons.
- Texting occurs most frequently while cars are idling at a traffic sign or signal (64 percent).
Similar studies by Mt. Washington’s affiliate, Plymouth Rock Assurance, found that 40 percent of Massachusetts drivers and 30 percent of Connecticut drivers admitted to texting while driving. The complete findings of these studies will be shared with all participants and are available for download on Plymouth Rock’s website, www.plymouthrock.com. More than 500 New Hampshire drivers participated in this study, which was conducted online in August 2013 by survey provider Cvent.
In an effort to fight back against distracted driving, Plymouth Rock Assurance will attempt to set a new world record for the Most Pledges to a Safety Campaign. Drivers interested in signing the pledge and helping to set a new world record can do so by visiting FightDistractedDriving.com.
About Mt. Washington
Headquartered in Concord, New Hampshire, Mt. Washington Assurance Corporation provides home insurance and personal auto insurance to New Hampshire residents. Mt. Washington Assurance is part of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in auto and homeowners insurance throughout the Northeast.