Who's That Distracted Driver in Your Rearview Mirror? Poll Says It's Likely Someone With Lots of Brains and Bucks

Dec 02, 2010, 12:34 ET from InsuranceQuotes.com

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Well-educated, well-off American drivers say they've suffered the consequences of distracted driving more than other motorists, from getting a ticket to getting involved in a major accident, according to a poll commissioned by InsuranceQuotes.com.

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The poll, conducted for InsuranceQuotes.com by GfK Roper, a division of GfK Custom Research North America, shows how universal distracted driving has become: 93 percent of drivers report they engage in it somehow, whether by texting, talking on a cell phone -- even kissing.

All that distraction has consequences: Four in 10 American adults who are licensed motorists acknowledge that being distracted while driving caused them to do one of the following: swerve into another lane, slam on the brakes, get a ticket, almost get into an accident, or have a minor or major wreck.

That number rose to 49 percent for drivers who have a college degree and 43 percent for drivers who earn at least $75,000 a year. Those are the highest numbers among drivers from all income and education levels covered in the poll.

"The InsuranceQuotes.com poll on distracted driving indicates that people who have brains and bucks are more likely to be the motorists you see who are eating, reading or even kissing behind the wheel," said John Egan, managing editor of Bankrate Insurance, which owns InsuranceQuotes.com. "It appears that well-to-do, well-educated Americans are multitaskers at work, at home—and in the car."

Among the findings of the poll:

  • 41 percent of well-educated drivers and 35 percent of high-income drivers say they've swerved out of their lane as a result of distracted driving, versus 32 percent of all drivers polled.
  • 37 percent of drivers with a college degree and 33 percent in the highest income bracket report slamming on their brakes because of driving distractions, compared with 29 percent of all motorists polled.
  • 26 percent of well-educated drivers and 22 percent of well-off drivers indicate that distracted driving caused them to nearly get into an accident, compared with 18 percent of all drivers polled.

Sixteen percent of fatal crashes in 2009 were attributed to distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Experts say any at-fault crash, including a wreck attributed to distracted driving, can trigger a hike in a driver's auto insurance premiums.

To see more findings from the InsuranceQuotes.com distracted driving poll, visit www.insurancequotes.com/distracted-driving.

Poll methodology

This poll was conducted online Oct. 1-3, 2010, via OMNIWEB, a weekly national online omnibus service of GfK Roper Custom Research North America, for InsuranceQuotes.com. GfK Roper completed 1,006 interviews with 485 male and 521 female adults age 18 and older from a representative sample of the online population from GfK's online consumer panel. Of this group, GfK Roper identified 858 who had a valid driver's license.

The raw data were weighted by a custom-designed computer program that automatically develops a weighting factor for each respondent using five variables: age, sex, education, race and geographic region. Each interview was assigned a weight based on the relationship between the actual proportion of the population with its specific combination of the five variables used, and the proportion in the sample that week. The margin of error for the weighted data is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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SOURCE InsuranceQuotes.com