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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A new insurance company survey says that despite drivers’ continued push and support for laws restricting cellphone use while driving, they are still sometimes regularly using the devices irresponsibly.

It was in 2009 when the State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company began surveying adults over the age of 18 about attitudes and behaviors related to distracted driving.

While talking on cell phones while driving has decreased, from 65-percent in 2009 to 51-percent in 2015, the percentage of people texting while driving has edged up slightly — it was 31-percent in 2009 and is now at 36-percent.

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More than nine in 10 people surveyed this year said that activities that take a driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel, like texting, email and social media checking, and taking pictures, are somewhat to very distracting behaviors. Despite defining those activities as distracting, a vast majority of respondents indicated that they participate in those very behaviors.

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Fifty-seven percent of people responding to a State Farm annual survey said they they would strongly agree with any measure prohibiting people from physically interacting with a hand-held cellphone while driving under normal, everyday circumstances. But only 41-percent of respondents said they would be extremely likely to support technology that would prohibit using a cellphone for making/receiving calls or receiving/responding to text messages while driving.

Apparently driving conditions and situations also affect how and when people are likely to use their cell phones. For instance, drivers said they’re less likely to use their cellphone behind the wheel when it’s dark outside, raining or in a school zone. But they admitted to being more likely to participate in distracted cellphone activity while stopped at a red light or driving on the open highway.

The research also found that the younger you are the less likely you are to view smartphone activity, while driving, as very distracting. Thus, distracted driving behavior is more common among younger people. For instance, people between 18 and 29 years old are more likely than those 40 and older to report taking pictures and recording video with a cellphone while driving.

So what would strongly motivate people to stop some of their distracted driving practices? Forty-eight percent of survey respondents said they would most likely be deterred from reading or responding to text messages while driving if they caused a crash. Forty-two percent said losing their driver license, having their insurance rate increase or going to jail would make them cut back. Only 13-percent said that text ban laws would deter them.

While there has been a sharp increase in behavior that is considered negative, the percentage of people reporting owning a smartphone has significantly increased every year since 2011, so the numbers also reflect the fact that there are more people able to participate in activities related to smartphone distracted driving.

Survey responses are received from approximately 1,000 consumers each year.
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