MDOT – Although Michigan law prohibits drivers from reading, manually typing, or sending a text message while driving, 41 percent of young adult drivers admitted to sending texts and emails on a regular basis while driving, according to a recent statewide telephone survey conducted for the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP). More than 26 percent indicated they did so daily.
The 400-sample survey of 20- to 30-year-olds was directed by Glengariff Group, Inc. Respondents were asked about driving habits, Michigan’s texting law, and cell phone use while driving.
“While drivers are aware of the hazards associated with texting and driving, they have an overwhelming desire to remain connected with others no matter what the risk,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “There is an intense need to stay in touch with friends and family around the clock and those emotions are a key factor as traffic safety advocates confront the growing problem of distracted driving.”
Despite the danger, 51 percent admitted texting at night and 22 percent had texted when it was snowing. The survey found that 56 percent were more likely to text on a local road. Nearly one in five Michigan young adult drivers consider themselves addicted to their cell phone.
Among those surveyed, 77 percent said they would be much less likely to text or read texts while driving if a child was in the vehicle; and 53 percent would be less likely to text if points were added to driving records in addition to fines. Under Michigan’s texting ban, violators face a $100 fine for the first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses.
The OHSP will use the survey results in developing traffic safety strategies to reduce fatalities and injuries caused by distracted driving.
According to the MSP Criminal Justice Information Center, there were 7,516 crashes in Michigan involving distracted driving during 2015, resulting in 28 fatalities and 3,472 injuries. This was up from 5,353 crashes in 2014, resulting in 14 fatalities and 2,401 injuries. Of the distracted driving crashes in 2015, a cell phone was involved in 753 crashes, with three fatalities and 251 injuries.