According to an April 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, about 70 percent of drivers reported talking on the phone while driving. Earlier this year, we posted about a new bill in Louisiana that would increase fines for texting while driving. Recent statistics show why this new bill is so necessary. A new study by Rutgers University researchers shows that cell phone use behind the wheel is still prevalent among young drivers nationwide. Distracted driving car accidents occur regularly nowadays, injuring and killing a number of Louisiana motorists.

The Rutgers study involved over 110 undergraduate drivers between the ages of 18 and 25. One in six of the students admitted to using their phones while they were drowsy. This is one of the few studies that focused on the use of cell phones by sleep deprived drivers.

Researchers found that drivers 25 and under are the most likely to fall asleep behind the wheel as well as the most likely to text and drive. Undergrads have a tendency to be sleep deprived for a variety of reasons, thereby putting them at greater risk on the road than other age groups.

The study showed that nearly 80 percent of undergrads used their phones in speaker mode while driving and about 66 percent admitted to holding their phones in one hand while using speaker mode. Safety experts say that hands-free devices, as well as speaker mode, can still be a distraction behind the wheel. About 75 percent of survey participants also reported singing in the car as a distraction during drowsy driving.

Regardless of the type of distraction, it is clear that many people are still not taking the dangers of distracted driving seriously. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 3,179 people died in distracted driving accidents in 2014, and it is doing everything they can to stop drowsy driving as well as texting and driving. Drowsy driving has been proven to impair judgment behind the wheel and slow down reaction times, thereby making it just about as dangerous as drunk driving.

Source: Medical Xpress, “Cell phone use prevalent among drowsy drivers, distracted drivers,” Roya Rafei, June 27, 2016