Distracted driving due to Web surfing is on the rise
State Farm survey shows 'webbing' behind the wheel has increased along with smartphone ownership.
According to a new survey by State Farm, Internet surfing on portable devices is the latest distracted-driving danger.
“Webbing” among younger drivers has increased from 29 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2012. In a survey of nearly 1,000 motorists in July 2012, the insurer found that the increase is driven in large part by the proliferation of Web-enabled smartphones.
The State Farm study found that among drivers 18 to 29 years old, checking e-mail while driving increased to 43 percent in 2012 from 32 percent in 2009, while accessing social media networks while driving rose to 36 percent from 21 percent in the same period.
But data from the State Farm survey also indicate that “motorists of all ages are using the mobile Web while driving.” For all age groups, accessing the Internet while driving increased to 21 percent from 13 percent, checking social media networks rose to 15 percent from 9 percent, and updating social networks increased to 13 percent from 9 percent between 2009 and 2012.
“Though texting while driving remains a concern on the nation's highways, people are also webbing while driving with increasing frequency," State Farm said in a statement. "These behaviors may pose equal or greater concerns in the effort to reduce distracted driving.”
While laws are in place to prevent texting — and common sense tells motorists that risking life and limb is not worth updating your status on Facebook — some automakers are attempting to reduce the problem by creating infotainment systems that allow drivers to get their connectivity fix more safely, without looking down at a smartphone.
The BMW Apps option allows Facebook and Twitter posts to be read aloud and even updated using canned, pre-composed posts, while the BMW Online Office feature that’s part of the ConnectedDrive suite of services lets a driver listen and respond to e-mails using voice commands. A Google search, news feeds and weather updates are also available.
The mbrace2 system from Mercedes-Benz lets the driver perform a Google search, allows access to Facebook and Yelp and has a full Web browser. Cars from Ford, GM, Lexus and Toyota also allow access to some smartphone applications, while Audi Connect creates a Wi-Fi hotspot in the car through a T-Mobile SIM card.
Many of these features are limited while driving to prevent distraction. But while some argue that automakers are encouraging distraction by including these features in vehicles — and believe me, the first-generation systems have their quirks — drivers are better off with in-car systems than looking down at the tiny screens and controls of their smartphones.
The Web, as seen (while parked) through the latest Comand system in the Mercedes-Benz GLK350.
[Source: Inside Line]
I think part of the reason "distracted" driving is so widespread is that actual driver involvement feels less necessary. Power assists, techno-gadgety controls, and the trend toward computer/sensor-aided highway use is a far cry from forty-degrees-of-slack manual steering, grabby-but-weak drum brakes, and whipping the horses out of the motor with a gearshift lever.
Standard safety devices in normal crashes delete the attention-focusing vital fear that used to be drummed into every student driver; nowdays, you've got to be legen-darily stoopid to get killed or maimed in a car crash... no-belt SUV rollovers, speeding way past vision or control, parking on train tracks, et c.
If you want to see how bad it's gotten, ride a bike and count the clueless-yet-irritated stares you get from cagers you've just dodged.
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