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Eliminating driving distractions

Some interesting, but certainly not surprising, news regarding cell phone usage.

According to a new survey of AAA North Dakota members, distracted drivers are the top safety concern of state motorists - those talking on hand-held cell phones and text messaging - ranking right up their next to drunk drivers.

When you think about the similarity in terms of danger, that is really frightening in itself - paralleling the chance of being hit by someone text messaging as great as being hit by a drunk driver. Indeed cause for alarm.

When asked to rate their top-three safety concerns as motorists, AAA members responded distracted drivers (75 percent), drunk drivers (74 percent), and aggressive drivers (42 percent).

Other concerns cited include poor road quality (23%); teen drivers (23%); sharing the road with large trucks (18%); drowsy drivers (16%); senior drivers (14%); and unlicensed drivers (10%).

When asked what they believe to be the top three driver distractions contributing to traffic crashes, the top responses were: talking on hand-held cell phones (82 percent); text messaging (74 percent); and searching for something in the vehicle (56 percent). Other distractions mentioned include eating food/drinking beverages (28%); talking on hands-free cell phones (13%); outside distractions (11%); grooming (11%); passengers (10%); GPS or other electronic devices (6%); and Radio/CD/MP3 (5%).

North Dakota lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would make it illegal for drivers to send a text message from a cellular phone or other wireless communications device while operating a moving vehicle.  Asked if states should pass such laws, 90 percent of respondents said "yes."

In reviewing the survey results, AAA North Dakota predicts distracted driving will continue to weigh heavily on the minds of state motorists and lawmakers as each group grapples with the prominence of wireless communication devices in today's society.

So if you weren't surveyed and have similar concerns, make your feelings known to your local legislators. It could go a long way in eliminating a dangerous driving habit that is only going to worsen with passing time.