Let's start with a disclaimer that could also be a subtitle for this article: Please don't read this while driving. And I'm not kidding!
One of the subjects we regularly discuss with nonprofits and small businesses is the increasing importance of mobile optimization in reference to engagement with volunteers, donors, clients and the wider community.
Just in time for Memorial Day weekend, we are gifted with a study on distracted driving that is especially disconcerting. As smartphone use is on the rise, their use while driving has also grown.
A just released survey conducted by AT&T found that about 7-in-10 people engage in smartphone activities while driving. If you are like me, your assumption might be that this is mainly texting and mainly youth. But like me, you would be wrong. This telephone survey was conducted by Braund Research on 2,067 individuals between ages 16 and 65 who drive at least once a day and who own a smartphone.
Texting is still the most prevalent behind-the-wheel activity with 61% saying they text while driving. But just consider this range of other smartphone activities.
Reading and Responding to Email: This continues to be a prevalent activity with 33% admitting to reading and/or responding to emails. Sorry but, if you need me that badly, you can call. After all, I do have a phone. However, email is now number three behind . . .
Social Media: perhaps the most surprising to me was that nearly 4-in-10 smartphone users tap into social media while driving. Facebook tops the list, with 27% of those polled using the Facebook app while driving. About 14% said they're on Twitter behind the wheel, with 30 percent of these individuals saying they post to Twitter while driving “all the time”. Instagram ties with Twitter at 14% (that is posting to Instagram – not just taking a picture), and Snapchat is fourth at 11%. Interestingly, 22% of those using social networks while behind the wheel self-diagnose themselves as doing so out of addiction.
Internet Browsing: 28% of those polled said they surf the net while driving. Talk about shark infested waters.
Selfies and Photos: 17% say they snap a selfie/photo while driving. This actually surprised me a little less considering the selfie craze. However, just out of curiosity, I experimented simulating this while sitting behind the wheel of a car standing still with the ignition off. The idea of doing this while driving in traffic is just plain scary.
Video (that’s right . . . video): Fully 12% (that’s almost 250 people out of this small sample) have shot a video while driving. And do they think it’s dangerous. Nooooo. 27% of those who have shot video while driving think they can do it safely. And, in a New York Times interview, Lori Lee (AT&T’s senior executive vice president for global marketing) said that “One in 10 say they do video chat while driving. I don’t even have words for that.’”
Neither do I, except to say: “Don’t do that”. After all, these are called smartphones. Let’s hope the drivers smarten up a little. Otherwise, those driverless cars are going to seem more and more like a transportation priority.