Most DC Capital Beltway Drivers Distracted by Cell Phone Use; One-in-four Reading or Writing Text Messages

in construction zones.”

The report is based upon a survey of 1,047 drivers who travel the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway.  That survey data reveals that the chance of an incident or near miss doubles when the driver is using a cell phone compared to the chance of an incident or near miss for a non-cell phone user (24 percent vs. 11 percent).  The survey also indicated that cell phone use while driving on the Beltway is a frequent behavior, with one-third of those respondents who use their cell phones admitting to doing so “most times.”

While driving and using a cell phone to make calls is dangerous, driving while reading or writing text messages is exceptionally dangerous.  According to the survey, approximately one-in-four Capital Beltway drivers is reading or writing a text.  Of those reading texts, 39 percent report having had a traffic incident or near miss as a result of that behavior.  Of those writing texts, 50 percent report having had a near miss or traffic incident as a result.  In fact, those who read or write texts are more than three times as likely to have been in an incident or near miss than other Capital Beltway drivers. “The survey results are alarming and confirm what we have long known about traffic safety:  When people are behind the wheel, driving should be their first and only interest,“ commented Lon Anderson, director of public and government relations, AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Driving in a busy construction zone, which poses more challenges than the already difficult driving conditions on the Capital Beltway, requires an even greater focus.”

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