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Study: More Michigan Drivers Admit To Texting, Talking

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DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Although Michigan law prohibits drivers from reading, typing or sending a text message while driving — it’s not stopping them.

A new survey from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning showed 16.3 percent of respondents admitted to texting and e-mailing while driving.

This is nearly double the number of people who admitted to sending texts and e-mails in a 2012 survey, reflecting, as OHSP spokeswoman Lynn Sutfin said, the change in the way people communicate today.

And it’s a dangerous practice: http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com found 23  percent of all traffic crashes — or 1.3 million — in 2011 involved cell phone use. They found texting behind the wheel makes crashing 23 times more likely.

“When you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, your one and only job is to be driving that vehicle, we really would like people to pay attention to what they’re doing,” Sutfin said. “When you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle, unfortunately, you never know what’s going to happen with another motorist on the road so you really have to focus all your attention on driving.”

The newest Michigan findings on cell phone use while driving was part of a driver attitude and beliefs telephone survey of 600 motorists conducted by Glengariff Group, Inc. and funded by the OHSP with federal traffic safety money.

Those surveyed were asked about driving habits, traffic laws, drinking and driving, cell phone use and texting while driving.

“These kinds of surveys give insight on driver’s knowledge of traffic safety laws, illustrate gaps in knowledge and the extent of unsafe driving behavior,” OHSP Director Michael L. Prince said.

In addition, nearly 59 percent of Michigan motorists admit to making and accepting phone calls while driving, an increase from 56 percent of drivers in 2012, and 31 percent of drivers admitted to looking at incoming text messages and e-mails, an increase from 17 percent in 2012.

The survey findings also concluded that:

• 40.2 percent said they would feel unsafe driving after two drinks in a two-hour time period, while 26.6 percent felt they would be unsafe after one drink.

• 96 percent said they would want to have their seat belt on during a crash.

• 78.7 percent said their driving skills were better than those of the average driver.

A copy of the survey results can be viewed here.

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