We’re used to a certain level of distraction while we’re driving: listening to a podcast about serial killers, or catching up with the sports news on local radio. But these kind of things require us to be passive, and don’t require our hands to leave the wheel. However, due to everyone’s increased obsession with social media, it’s become more common to find drivers turning to their phones while on the road – and not just at the traffic lights.
Gunther Automotive commissioned a survey of 3,100 drivers and quite shockingly, found that over 1 in 5 (22%) drivers in North Carolina admit to using social media while behind the wheel. More specifically, almost 1 in 5 (16%) of us have taken a selfie while driving.
Drivers in South Dakota and Rhode Island seem to be the most distracted drivers across the country with half (50%) admitting they have used social media while driving. Comparatively, only 11% of those in Arkansas say they’ve done so.
And what platforms are we most likely to use while driving? Over half (58%) said Facebook, which often involves reading boring status updates or scrolling through quick new snippets. 12% said Snapchat, where you watch short videos – possibly involving cats and 10% said Twitter, which involves reading a range of tweets, some which can make you laugh, some of which can make you angry. 8% said Instagram, involving scrolling through pretty images and perhaps catching up on celebrity updates. Another 8% watch longer videos on YouTube and just 4% exchange messages on WhatsApp while driving.
This all adds up to a driver’s attention being severely distracted from what’s going on them, and on the road ahead. And far more seriously, it turns out 1 in 5 (18%) drivers don’t know it’s actually illegal to use a cellphone while driving. When asked whether people who do this should face the same penalties as drunk drivers, almost half (48%) agreed – but worryingly, 21% of drivers said they didn’t think using social media while driving affected their driving capabilities. And if a friend posted a selfie while driving, 1 in 10 (12%) people admit they would probably like the post.