Multitasking Drivers

September 10th, 2012 by Andrea Bennett

A new survey reveals multitasking drivers may have a false confidence.

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Can you still call yourself a good driver if you’re multitasking behind the wheel?

Remarkably, 99 percent of people in a just-released survey said they were, despite the fact that 76 percent admitted to eating while driving; 55 percent said they exceed speed limits; and 54 percent talk on a hand-held mobile phone while at the wheel. More than a third of respondents said they drive when they are too tired, and a quarter of participants admitted to searching for contacts on their phone while driving.

Still, as The Wall Street Journal reported, most of those surveyed felt confident that their own driving behaviors are safe; instead, they expressed concern about the other drivers around them. 

The survey, conducted by market researcher Penn Schoen Berland for Ford Motor Company, interviewed 2,506 drivers age 18 and over. Ford commissioned the survey to assess whether people were interested in a variety of new safety technologies, such as systems that could detect an impending collision or another feature that displays a coffee cup when the car drifts off center repeatedly as a suggestion for the driver to get some rest. According to The Detroit News, survey respondents were most interested in technology such as a steering wheel vibration that will alert them when they drive too close to lane markings and forward-looking cameras to monitor traffic down the road, as well as the ability to see beyond other cars while backing out of a parking space.

Still, the results indicated that while drivers may be interested in technology to help them, they’re not that interested in helping themselves. Half of the people surveyed said they had either fallen asleep at the wheel or knew someone who had. “People are saying they are safe drivers, but they are engaging in other things while behind the wheel,” Billy Mann, managing director of Penn Schoen Berland, told the Journal.

The results speak for themselves: 57 percent of respondents have had an accident or close call with someone in their blind spot, 48 percent hit or almost hit something backing out of a parking lot, and 38 percent avoid parallel parking like the plague, Mann said.

What else do you do behind the wheel besides drive? Are you looking for technology to assist you, or are you putting it on yourself to modify your habits?