NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Many people guilty of using their phones while driving – even if they don’t admit it. According to a new study, distracted driving is probably worse than you think, with drivers looking at their smartphones on 88 out of 100 trips.
The study conducted by Zendrive has Texas as the 17th worse state for phone-distracted drivers. The study found that during an hour-long trip, drivers in the U.S. spent an average of 3.5-minutes using their phones.
Some North Texans who have their phones out while on the road say they use the devices to listen to music, check social media, or just stay reachable. But Garland police spokesman Lieutenant Pedro Barineau said none of those are more important than safety. “Put your phone down. You can text or get on your phone later. But when you’re driving it’s very, very important to pay attention to what’s going on around you.”
Some people say they never take their phones out while driving and can’t imagine why anyone would be texting or online instead of being focused on the road. One Texas driver said, “I do not talk… I don’t even answer the phone, which sometimes might get me in trouble with my boss because they want answers right away. I said ‘I cannot talk while I’m driving. Period.’”
Other drivers are active on their phones while behind the wheel, but admit they know how dangerous it is and that they shouldn’t do it. “I work in healthcare and I see people all the time that have been in really bad car accidents and I know that it can happen to me so… it’s a really bad habit that I’m trying to break.”
Texting while driving is banned in all school zones and some North Texas cities have a full ban in place.
Police departments across Texas work hard to keep the message about distracted driving, any kind, out there but many say they aren’t sure how well the message is getting across. “It’s very difficult to tell whether people are being receptive or not, because it’s still going on and you see people all the time doing that,” Lt. Barineau said.
By state, the most phone-distracted driving is being done in Vermont – where drivers on average used their phones for 4.4 minutes per hour. Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama filled the next closet spots.
Oregon had the least distracted drivers, with folks behind the wheel only spending 2.2 minutes per hour on their phones.
It only takes 2-seconds for a driver going 55 mph to travel the length of two basketball courts. The statistics are why Lt. Barineau and other members of law enforcement continually stress how dangerous distracted driving is. “Playing on your phone while driving is a huge risk and it can create a hazard for everybody, and ultimately injure or kill somebody if an accident occurs,” he said.