More than half of frequent I-95 drivers use cell phones, study shows
More than half of frequent drivers on Interstate 95 admit to using their cell phone while driving, and 20 percent said they send or view text messages, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by Transurban-Fluor and AAA Mid-Atlantic, showed that 56 percent of drivers reported using their phones while driving. It also found that 17 percent of drivers admitted to reading text messages, and 11 percent saying they write texts while driving.
AAA Mid-Atlantic and Transurban-Fluor, the company that is building the 95 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia, are promoting a safe-driving campaign as construction on the project ramps up.
“We need the full attention of drivers when traveling in the changing 95 Express Lanes
construction zone,” Kevin Ginnerty, director of project delivery, Transurban, said in a statement. “Drivers need to be alert for work vehicles that enter and exit the construction zone from the left lane. Further, with constricted shoulders and frequent lane closures, it is important for the safety of our workers and travelers on the road that all drivers make a conscious effort to put down their phones – and slow down – when traveling through the construction zone.”
Awareness is helping distracted drivers change their behavior – but not enough. Three out of four I-95 drivers recall recently reading or seeing a news story on the dangers of distracted driving. Despite awareness of these dangers, one in three distracted drivers have not changed their cell phone habits – even in construction zones. Just 20 percent of I-95 drivers have specifically opted to not read or write texts or emails in construction zones. Just 14 percent say that they make a conscious effort to not talk on a cell phone in the construction zone.
“It is imperative that motorists work to eliminate distracted driving behaviors on all Virginia roads
The study, which was conducted with 943 Virginia drivers who use the 95 Express Lanes construction zone corridor, found that 24 percent of drivers reported talking on the phone without a hands-free device, while 39 percent said they had talked on the phone with a hands-free device.
The groups say that drivers who use cell phones, whether handheld or hands-free, are twice as more likely as non-phone users to get into an accident or near miss, while those who text message are three times more likely as non-phone users.
This year, the Virginia General Assembly passed making sending or receiving a text message while driving a primary offense and raised the fine to $125 for the first offense and $250 for subsequent offenses.