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Nine of every 10 motorists believe that they are put at personal risk by others who talk on cellphones while driving. But seven out of 10 drivers report doing exactly that themselves anyway.
That's according to a new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. It also found that motorists who use cellphones while driving are more likely to engage in additional risky behavior such as speeding, drowsy driving, not wearing seat belts, or texting or sending emails while behind the wheel.
"What concerns AAA is this pattern of risky behavior that even goes beyond cellphone use," said Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokeswoman. "These same cellphone-using drivers clearly understand the risk of distraction, yet are still likely to engage in a wide range of dangerous driving activities."
The survey reports that 69 percent of licensed drivers reported talking on a cellphone while driving in the past month, even though 89 percent believe such behaviors by other motorists are a safety threat.
Among motorists who fairly often or regularly use cellphones while driving, 65 percent also reported speeding; 44 percent reported driving while drowsy; 53 percent said they sent a text or email; and 29 percent said they drove without a seat belt.
Drivers who said they never use a cellphone while driving were less likely to report other risky behavior. Only 31 percent reported speeding; 14 percent said they drove while drowsy; 3 percent said they sent a text or email; and 16 percent reported driving without a seat belt.
Almost all drivers surveyed 95 percent condemn texting or emailing while driving. But 27 percent said they sent an email or text while driving within the past month, and 35 percent said they read one.
Drivers ages 16 to 24 were even more likely to do that with 61 percent reporting sending a text or email while driving, and 26 percent reported checking or updating social media while driving.
AAA notes that studies say using cellphones impairs reaction times and nearly quadruples crash risk. Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 3,000 people are killed and nearly a half million are injured annually in crashes involving distraction.