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Half of Beltway drivers distracted by cell phones

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One in four drivers on the Capital Beltway send or read text messages while driving, according to a new report by Transurban-Fluor and AAA Mid-Atlantic.

About 50 percent of drivers who reported writing a text while driving said they were involved in a traffic incident or near miss as a result. For drivers who reported reading texts, 39 percent said they had been in a near miss or an incident.

Transurban-Fluor and Mid-Atlantic conducted the survey as part of a campaign to encourage safe driving in the Capital Beltway HOT Lanes construction zone. Transurban-Fluor is building HOT lanes along a 14-mile stretch of the Beltway, which will add toll lanes based on current traffic congestion.

“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,” Lon Anderson, director of public and government relations, AAA Mid-Atlantic said in a statement.  “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.”

The groups surveyed 1,047 drivers who use the Virginia side of the Beltway. The report found that 56 percent of Beltway drivers report some cell phone use, and these drivers are twice as likely to have a near miss or traffic incident. The survey found that 46 percent of Beltway drivers had not changed their cell phone usage since construction of the HOT lanes began.


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