From Texting To Web Surfing, Driver Distractions Change With Technology

Just as safety experts, legislators and law enforcement officials get a handle on one unsafe practice, a new danger rises up to battle for our attention. A survey conducted by State Farm has shown that a greater number of drivers than ever before have acknowledged surfing the Web while driving. Such distracted driving behaviors pose a serious risk and greatly enhance the likelihood of an accident.

The practice, referred to as “Webbing” by the young drivers who most often engage in the practice, has risen from 29 percent of young drivers in 2009 to 48 percent of such drivers in 2012. Across all age groups, using the mobile Web while driving has risen from 13 percent of drivers to 21 percent of drivers. The change is being driven by the proliferation of smart phones and the ease of accessing the Internet from these mobile devices. Drivers are more tempted than ever to hit a few buttons and update their Facebook status or check out the weather forecast for the day while driving.

The laws against texting in place in more than 30 states do apply to surfing the Internet from your phone. The law alone does not seem to be enough to curb the practice, however. Automakers are well aware of the increasing desire of drivers to stay connected in their vehicles. There is disagreement among safety experts as to whether in-car information systems are a plus. While they may be better than the distraction of looking down and typing on a tiny cell phone screen, the systems may still encourage people to take their attention away from driving.

The need to stay connected borders on an obsession for many people. As important as the Internet has become to everyday life, drivers need to be aware of the risks they are taking by failing to pay attention to the road. Driving and surfing the Web is a dangerous practice and it shouldn’t take a law to convince people to drive responsibly.

Source: MSN Autos, “Distracted driving due to Web surfing is on the rise,” by Douglas Newcomb, 26 November 2012