Daniel Hulshizer  /  AP file
A recent poll found 31 percent of American drivers said talking on a cell phone while at the wheel is the most annoying behavior exhibited by other drivers
updated 7/7/2005 8:39:37 PM ET 2005-07-08T00:39:37

Roughly a third of American motorists say cell phone use by fellow drivers is their main annoyance on the road — and, ironically, a habit that four out of 10 admit they engage in themselves.

The Drive for Life poll, a survey on drivers’ attitudes conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, found about half of American motorists feel less safe on the road than they did five years ago, consider driving to be more aggravating than they did two years ago, and believe they are more likely to get into a crash.

The poll, released Thursday, found 31 percent of American drivers said talking on a cell phone while at the wheel is the most annoying behavior exhibited by other drivers. But 43 percent admitted they have used a cell phone while driving in the last six months.

Among other distractions, 33 percent said they had driven while drowsy, 17 percent said they had read something while driving and 8 percent said they had adjusted a DVD player for passengers while driving. Six percent admitted to sending or reading text messages and consulting a global positioning system while driving.

The poll also found:

  • Sixty-eight percent said they have driven faster than posted speed limits. About three-quarters consider it acceptable to drive 5 miles over the speed limit.
  • Seventy-nine percent said they always wear seat belts, and 15 percent said they wear them most of the time.
  • About one-third have driven through a red light at an intersection or as the traffic light was changing from yellow to red.
  • About half admit to eating while driving in the past six months.
  • Asked to compare their driving experience to five years ago, 54 percent said they felt less safe while 52 percent said they felt more likely to get into a collision.

The survey paints a troubling picture of drivers aged 16 to 20. Fewer than half — 43 percent — said their passengers always buckle up while 64 percent said they talked on a cell phone while driving. Thirty-two percent said they read or send text messages while driving.

Steven Yantis, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University, said the poll highlights the dangers of distracted driving.

“If you take away a little bit of that mental capacity at the wrong time, it can have disastrous consequences,” Yantis said.

The poll was based on telephone interviews conducted June 8-12 with 1,100 licensed drivers. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

Drive for Life, a safe driving initiative, is sponsored by Volvo Cars of North America along with the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Sheriffs’ Association and AAA, with technical support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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