Nationwide Survey Shows Startling Number of Americans Guilty of DWD Culture of multitasking spreading to the roads, leading many to “Drive While Distracted”


By:  Virginia Kinneman
       Kinneman Insurance

Driving while distractedYou’ve seen them in your rear view mirror or in the car next to you. Sometimes they’re putting on makeup while steering with their knees, punching text messages into a phone without ever looking up at the road, or using a BlackBerry to read e-mail with one hand and steering with a cup of coffee in the other. Or, perhaps you’ve seen – or even done – worse.

A new survey by Nationwide Mutual Insurance shows “Driving While Distracted” (DWD) is quite prevalent among today’s drivers and more dangerous than you might think. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says distracted drivers account for almost 80 percent of all crashes in the U.S.

As found by Nationwide’s survey, even those who perceive themselves as safe drivers admit to doing outlandish things behind the wheel, including changing clothes, balancing a checkbook and shaving. In fact, more than 80 percent of drivers surveyed identified themselves as multitaskers.

According to the survey of 1,200 Americans, 83 percent of those polled believe they are safe drivers and 59 percent don’t consider themselves distracted drivers. However, 73 percent talk on cell phones, only 16 percent drive at or below the speed limit, and 38 percent admit they have driven a certain distance without any recollection of doing so.

What exactly do people do behind the wheel? According to the survey, 31 percent of respondents say they daydream; 23 percent experience road rage; 19 percent fix their hair, text or instant message; 14 percent comfort or discipline children; and 8 percent drive with a pet in their lap. 

Other multitasking efforts drivers admit to doing include:

  • Changing seats with passengers
  • Reading a book
  • Watching a movie
  • Writing a grocery list
  • Nursing a baby
  • Putting in contact lenses

Driving requires significant attention and multitasking while behind the wheel poses a threat to you and your fellow drivers. Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Drive defensively—be aware of what others around you are doing and expect the unexpected.
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel.
  • Build time into your trip schedule to stop for food, rest breaks and making necessary phone calls or other business.
  • Adjust your seat, mirrors, and climate controls before putting the car in gear.
  • Pre-program your favorite radio stations and pre-load your CDs before leaving.
  • Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel and take a break if you find yourself lost in thought or have difficulty focusing on the road ahead.
  • Don’t use a cell phone or any other electronic device while driving. If you have to make a call, keep it short and always avoid stressful or emotional conversations.
  • Don’t text: Text messaging requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver. It is by far the most alarming distraction and puts the vehicle at 23 times more risk of an accident than focused driving, according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
  • Secure cargo that may move around while the vehicle is in motion. Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor.
  • Pull over to eat or drink, it only takes a few minutes. If you have to eat while driving, select easy-to-eat foods and a spill proof cup.
  • Have items needed within easy reach: toll fees, toll cards, garage passes, etc.
  • Give yourself time to react. Keep a two second cushion between you and the car in front of you—four seconds if the weather is bad.
  • Don’t speed—it gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident.
  • And, of course, always wear your seat belt and drive sober and drug-free.

For more information on multitasking while driving, contact (insert agent’s name here) at (contact info here) or go online at

Have questions about insurance?  Just ask Virginia who has lived in Annandale and has been a Nationwide Agent for more then 20 years.  Kinneman Insurance:  Offers a full line of insurance and financial services.  


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