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Cellphones The Internet Transportation

Nearly 1 In 4 Adults Surf the Web While Driving 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-roads dept.
cartechboy writes "A new survey out this week says that the number of motorists who surf the Web has nearly doubled over the past four years. In 2009, 13 percent of motorists admitted that they'd accessed the Internet while driving. In 2013, that figure had jumped to 24 percent. Smartphones are the primary culprit, making the unsafe task even easier. Other distracted driving behavior is on the rise, too, and younger drivers are the biggest issue — 76 percent of motorists 18 to 29 said that they talked on a hand-held cell phone while driving. 70 percent said they were texting. Keep in mind we have states legislating smartphone use task by task, which clearly doesn't help."
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Nearly 1 In 4 Adults Surf the Web While Driving

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  • Unfortunately when people go out while texting/talking/surfing they tend to take other people with them. If we could just figure out a way to just do away with them, then we'd be golden!
  • Google Cars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by invid (163714) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:39PM (#45416507) Homepage
    All the more reason why we need to get autonomous cars on the road.
  • Probably somebody back in the Mid 90's?

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:39PM (#45416515) Homepage Journal

    As many as 1 in 4 adults should never have made it to adulthood, with the clearly disabled mental faculties. To bad driving is a case where the dumb shit you do is as likely to kill an innocent person on the road as yourself. It's like vaccines really, there aren't enough consequences on the people doing the harm.

    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @05:24PM (#45417111)

      It's more a matter of a situation where the penalty doesn't always occur but when it does it can be deadly.

      Suppose you make a trip in your car while surfing the web with your phone and don't have a problem. In your brain, it seems as if surfing the web while driving has no consequences so you keep doing it. Fifty trips later and still nothing happens and your brain has cemented this as a "truth." Unfortunately, on that fifty-first trip, you run over a pedestrian crossing the street because you were too busy loading Cute-Kitten-Photos.com to notice that your light was red or you smash into the car in front of you because you didn't notice that they braked since your eyes were on a news article loading on your screen.

      Mix this in with young people's* view of "I'm indestructible! Nothing bad can ever happen to me!!!" and you have a dangerous concoction.

      * Typing that out made me feel old.

      • by lgw (121541)

        I think there's another effect giving people a false sense of security: looking down at a phone is far more dangerous than merely "zoning out", or even talking on the phone. Evolution has left us highly adapted to snap attention to something in our field of vision as long as we're not actively looking elsewhere. As bad as chatting on the phone while driving can be, you at least have a chance if your eyes are on the road. As soon as you look at something interesting, you have no chance at all.

  • by C0R1D4N (970153) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:39PM (#45416517)
    I burn through my data pretty quick with netflix on my tablet while driving around. Honestly it keeps me from texting =p
  • by Subject-17 (2790647) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:40PM (#45416533)
    ...Since when does "accessing the internet" equate to "surfing the web"? They gave checking emails and surfing the web as examples of accessing the internet, but I'd like to see if "accessing the internet" was the actual question or not. Every single time I drive my phone "accesses the internet". Google play on an android smartphone? Hell yeah that's accessing the internet. Sending a text at a stop light? That's google voice for me, so accessing the internet. Fucking GPS? Yep, accessing the internet once again to get all that sweet, sweet map data. I don't know of anyone who owns a smartphone but doesn't use it for GPS in the car. The only exceptions are those with a dedicated GPS, which, again, accesses the actual internet to download map data, and get routing information.
    • .... the fact that the light is red does not negate your responsibility to pay attention to your surroundings. From a legal and moral point of view you're operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway regardless of the color of the light, and you have an obligation to give that task your full attention.

      The same goes for touching up your cosmetics, reading your snail mail, drinking your coffee, or any of the other items on the huge list of things people do when they're supposed to be devoting their full at

      • If the safe operation of a car requires your continuous full attention then perhaps you shouldn't be driving. For the rest of us, we continuously choose what to pay attention to, and how much attention to pay to it, and relegate the rest to peripheral systems. If drinking a coffee was such a hazard then drive throughs and cup-holders would be illegal.
    • Fucking GPS? Yep, accessing the internet once again to get all that sweet, sweet map data.

      Or, in my case, accessing sigalert [sigalert.com] to see why traffic is suddenly so backed up.

      Agreed. I've been known to "access the Internet" while driving slowly--I have a link on my home screen for sigalert which comes up with my commute route. But that's a bit different than "surfing the web."

    • There's a difference between setting up your smartphone's GPS before you start driving - listening to the directions given but not interacting with the screen - and trying to type in your destination as you go 60mph on a highway or trying to check your e-mail as you cruise down Main Street because you don't think your e-mails can wait 10 minutes.

      Yes, the former is "accessing the Internet" but it isn't the driver actively interacting with the device. It's even better if you set the device (again, ahead of t

  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:41PM (#45416551) Journal

    First post while driving down Interstate 49#`%dAq{%&dkj19Z{`%.NO CARRIER

    • by cje (33931) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @05:03PM (#45416853) Homepage

      I realize that you're dead, but you browsed the Internet while driving... on dialup? That's pretty hardcore.

      • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @05:33PM (#45417221) Homepage

        Well, I wasn't driving at the same time.

        We had outfitted our chase van for the 1995 SunRayce, and had gotten Bell Atlantic (might've been Bell Atlantic-NYNEX at that point) to donate a car phone plus some coverage ... and we got a phone that had an RJ11 plug on it.

        So ... we did some tests in the DC area before heading out to the race. The only place we could hold a decent connection (9600 baud ... that was pretty good for the days of 33.6k modems, considering we were on an analog cell phone) was along the BW Parkway ... near the NSA.

        Which is retrospect seems kinda strange, now that they don't want any portable electronic devices going into secured places. (unless of course it was a rogue cell tower trying to specifically get people from the NSA to route through them)

        You also get lots of strange looks from people when driving through Georgetown in a large white van w/ tinted windows and a half dozen antennas on the roof. (GPS, cell phone, 2 xUHF,2 x CB, radio modem (to talk to the solar car), etc.)

        ps. by 'browsed the internet' I mean 'FTPed some files'. We might've used gopher, too.

      • by sootman (158191)

        > on dialup

        My cell carrier gives me limited data but unlimited voice. So yeah, fuck'em, I'm using a modem. For spite. :D

    • Next the police will use cameras on passing cars where the driver is holding a cellphone in his hands and just mail you the citation. That is so easy today and government in general has shown a delight in catching people, so I don't think it is that far off.

    • That's some really nice extension cord there

  • by WWJohnBrowningDo (2792397) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:41PM (#45416555)

    24 percent? More like 50 percent. Both of the guys I just passed were staring at their little gadget in zombie-like trance.

    Posted from my iPhone.

  • by randalotto (1206870) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:42PM (#45416559)
    Saying that "Nearly 1 in 4 adults SURF the web while driving" is very different from the actual results of the survey: "Nearly 1 in 4 adults SURFED the web while driving AT LEAST ONCE IN THE LAST YEAR".

    Frankly, I'm surprised the number is so low since they include checking email.
    • That wasn't even the worst one. I was most annoyed at the fact that they mixed up the Web for the Internet. Saying that someone "accessed the Internet" while driving is quite different from saying they were surfing the Web, since it could include more benign activities like checking a map or audio streaming, in addition to surfing the Web.

      It sounds like you read the article and know what they actually intended, but the summary did a lousy job of conveying it.

  • by organgtool (966989) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:42PM (#45416561)
    I need to go back and show this to the guy on a bike that I just almost took out!
  • Selfish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim the Gecko (745081) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:43PM (#45416573)
    Pick a random left turn light in the Bay Area, and look at the driver waiting third or fourth in line. Some of them are very slow to move off when the light goes green, because they are reading or even typing on their smartphone. Then they play catch-up after a cursory look at the road ahead. They rate their entertainment above the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. It's unbelievably selfish.
    • Pick a random left turn light in the Bay Area, and look at the driver waiting third or fourth in line. Some of them are very slow to move off when the light goes green, because they are reading or even typing on their smartphone. Then they play catch-up after a cursory look at the road ahead. They rate their entertainment above the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. It's unbelievably selfish.

      American arrogance plus Californian sense of entitlement leads to some of the worst drivers I've ever seen out here in the Bay Area. They simply do not even recognize that there are other people in the world.

    • What, nobody makes an app that tells you when the traffic in front of you starts to move again? I think the camera is pointed the right way...

  • by neonv (803374) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:53PM (#45416717)

    the number of motorists who access the internet (e.g. check email, surf websites, etc.) has nearly doubled over the past four years

    This statement implies these people access the internet regularly. However, that's not the question they asked.

    13 percent of motorists admitted that they'd accessed the internet while driving

    This statement says motorists have accessed the internet at all, meaning at least one time ever in your life, not on a regular basis.

    This is a very important distinction that the article glosses over. If I accessed the internet on my phone once 5 years ago, then this survey would call me "one who accesses the internet while driving," which is very misleading. I don't access the internet while driving. The survey should ask something like "have you accessed the internet while driving in the last month." Then the data would be reasonable and give a much better representation of what people do.

    • by codegen (103601)
      It also glosses over what accessing the internet means. If I use a google maps with voice directions, I've accessed the internet.
      • by dpidcoe (2606549)

        It also glosses over what accessing the internet means. If I use a google maps with voice directions, I've accessed the internet.

        Yeah, by that definition I'm "accessing the internet" for 95% of the time I drive because I get pandora streaming on my phone before I pull out of my driveway on my way to work and occasionally hit the skip button while on the freeway.

    • by s.petry (762400)

      This! It's like the new commercial running in California that claims 1 in 5 people are killed by tobacco. It's a nonsense statistic that some dip shit got paid to make up, but has no basis in reality.

      I'm curious as to why people think these bogus statistics are helpful. Anyone with a 10th grade education can understand that these statistics are wrong, so they end up ignoring the messages completely. Which may have the adverse effect and cause people to use the internet and driving, perhaps to research th

  • Is that included in surfing the web? I use Google Maps on my iPhone on occasion, does that count?
    • If you are typing in the address as you drive, I'd count it.

      If you typed in the address beforehand and are just looking at the screen (hopefully mounted somewhere) to see the directions, this is less of an issue.

      If you typed in the address beforehand and the app is reading you the directions out loud so you don't need to even look at the device, that's even better.

  • I'd say the actual number is somewhere like 75% do it, while maybe 50% do it while in motion.

    Or you could be like me, I'm playing games arcade games on my ipad while driving.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @04:59PM (#45416799)

    I ride the train into town, more often than not. If we get cut off by a texting driver, it's not a big deal - other than it making us late while the cops do the fatality investigation.

    If that happens while I'm on a Metro Transit bus, the bump might make me spill my coffee though.

  • At last we have concrete proof that a substantial proportion of the adult population are stupid.

    I feel so much better for my own prospects, just as long as I and my family can avoid being killed or injured by these ignorant, selfish imbeciles.

    Mind you, if this is in America, I suppose it's OK. The roads there are thousands of miles long, as wide as a football pitch, have no corners and are virtually empty. I believe their cars have suspension and steering systems optimised for traveling in straight lines al

  • Shaving, putting on makeup, fiddling with GPS, reading books, reading newspapers, eating breakfast
  • If we start to treat all forms of visually distracted driving in the way that civilized countries treat drunk driving we might get people to reconsider their behaviors. Being as we are dealing with things that people choose to do, the idea of punishment bad choices should not be anywhere near as unpopular as it is.
    • Which is why distinguishing between digital distractions and other distractions shouldn't really be an issue. You're distracted or you're not. The most dangerous/distracting thing in my car is the head unit - whether used with an iPod or the embedded GPS mapping software it requires way too much attention to properly operate. I've switched to using my phone and the voice controls.

  • I don't completely trust their numbers. 70+ percent of motorists 18-39 admit that they talk or text while driving, but I suspect that older drivers do it just about as much -- they just don't admit to it. Just driving around I notice a LOT of drivers, who are obviously older than 39, talking on, or otherwise looking down at, their phones. In fact, I would say that middle-aged women are possibly the most prolific texters while driving. I'm just not sure that younger drivers are the biggest issue.

  • Yeah, I've used the internet while driving. Got messages, sent messages, performed searches.

    Pretty much all of them at the touch of a single button, while the voice-interactive function did all the leg work. All of it about as distracting as my GPS mapping/traffic program, and hella safer than trying to interact with the head unit in the car. There are still some things which can't be done well (email, for one, is nearly impossible), and none of it is suitable for even moderate traffic conditions, but for

  • by Mr Krinkle (112489) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @05:19PM (#45417045) Homepage

    Period.

    Try riding a motorcycle through a city, or along a highway. That's when you tend to not be on a phone. (I've definitely used hands free, and texted from stop lights or pulled over on the bike) That's the ONLY people that are on our roads that I'd put better than 50% on not being on their phone. Either blatantly, both hands texting away, or talking on it, or just holding it for easy access.

    There is NO WAY that only 1 in 4 people are using their phones on a daily commute. I'd say 3 out of 4 or even 4 out of 5 use their phone daily during their commute.

  • When I see a car that's all over the road then it pretty much looks like drunk driving to me. So then I pass it and see the driver busy texting. So here's the proposal: how much does one have to drink to drive like that? Well use that number to calculate the fine.

  • by ddt (14627)

    Come on, there are only 11M car accidents a year, and less than 40k people die from them. We've got 315M people living in the US. Plenty of spares!

  • If they are using the web while driving, then they are not mentally an adult ...
  • This seems like a fairly broad statement. Despite what the horrible title says, people did NOT admit to "surfing the web" but "accessed the internet".
    The only definition in this incredibly short article defining what that means is the following:

    (e.g. check email, surf websites, etc.)

    However, it doesn't say if they prefaced that when asking the question. If they simply asked me, for instance "Do you access the internet while you drive?", my answer would be "Yes, yes I do!"
    Using google navigator, maps, etc? That access the internet. Even if it's

  • " Keep in mind we have states legislating smartphone use task by task, which clearly doesn't help."

    Um, the problem doesn't involve passing more laws and punishing those of us who just use GPS navigation on the things. It involves, you know, actual police work. Here's a novel idea: instead of setting up speed traps outside of rush hour because it's easy revenue, how about enforcing actual safety-related laws including yield signs and other rights of way, traffic lights, speeding IN URBAN RESIDENTIAL ZONES (r

  • by vinn (4370) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:35PM (#45417869) Homepage Journal

    I am WAY too busy to surf the web while driving. Between sending email, sending txts, reading Facebook, checking the latest scores and everything else, I don't have time to open a web browser and just "surf".

    Oh, and downloading podcasts. Who could forget that..

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