New Poll By Volvo On Distracted Driving Busts Some Myths and Reveals A Big Safety Misconception

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A new Harris Poll conducted on Volvo’s behalf reveals some interesting trends related to distracted driving and also indicates that folks worry more about what they think will hurt them in a vehicle than what really does.

The poll centered around the topic of device-based distracted driving and safety. It looked at how different generations use technology in vehicles. Two groups highlighted in the study were Generation X, those born from the 1960s through the 1980s and Generation Z, those born from roughly the 1990s to the early 2000s. The Generation Z group, now in their late teens to early 20s, is often thought of as the children of the Generation X folks.

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“Distracted driving is not unique to younger generations. In fact, it’s a problem we are seeing across generations and demographics,” said Jim Nichols, Product, Technology & Brand Communications Senior Manager for Volvo Car USA. The study discovered that parents are primary users of their phones behind the wheel with 73% using them vs. 66% overall. One in three parents surveyed also admits that they use their phones often when their kids are with them.

The poll also found that many drivers know they are on their phones too much while behind the wheel. 64% of respondents say that are looking for ways to cut down on the distractions. Interestingly, among the younger group of Gen-Z drivers that number rises to 89%. The good news is that this desire for easier in-vehicle technology usage is something that both smartphone makers and automakers are working on. A recent study by AAA determined that both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, systems which integrate apps directly with a car’s controls and displays, are less distracting to employ than native systems offered by automakers.  33% of Americans say that they drive in silence to minimize distractions and 32% report that they set their phones to “do not disturb” to eliminate notifications.

The poll also revealed that more than half of drivers surveyed have the mistaken opinion that driving distracted is the top threat to their safety on the road. 55% considered it the top threat. Of the approximately 37,000 Americans killed in a motor vehicle-related accident, the U.S. Department of Transportation says that about 30% are attributed primarily to drunk driving. Speeding is a close second accounting for about 30% of deaths related to vehicles. Distracted driving of all types, not just phone-related distractions, accounts for less than 10% of the vehicle-related deaths in America – and it declined in the last year for which data is available. For a variety of reasons, including notable vehicle safety improvements, deaths involving vehicles (as well as the rate of deaths per mile driven) have declined in America since the introduction of the Apple iPhone and Android phones in 2007. That year, over 41,000 Americans died in vehicle-related events.