BLOOMINGTON, Ill., Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A U.S. survey found drivers who access the Internet via phone while driving nearly doubled in five years -- up from 13 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2013.
The annual State Farm Distracted Driving survey also found a significant increase in the percentage of drivers who own smartphones, particularly among drivers age 30 and older.
"As smartphone ownership increases for all age groups, the safety community must ensure we are keeping pace with our understanding of the types of distractions drivers face," Chris Mullen, director of technology research at State Farm, said in a statement. "Much attention is paid toward reducing texting while driving, but we must also be concerned about addressing the growing use of multiple mobile web services while driving."
When asked for their opinion on ways to encourage drivers to be more engaged in driving, 74 percent of drivers surveyed strongly agreed with laws or regulations prohibiting texting or emailing behind the wheel and more than half said laws governing cellphone use while driving are enforced to little or no extent.
To a lesser degree, 44 percent of survey respondents were extremely likely to support technology that would prevent texting or emailing on a cellphone while driving.
While much of the distracted driving focus has been on young people, the data indicated the percentage of motorists who owned smartphones was increasing for all ages:
-- Ages 18-29: 78 percent in 2011 to 86 percent in 2013.
-- Ages 30-39: 60 percent in 2011 to 86 percent in 2013.
-- Ages 40-49: 47 percent in 2011 to 82 percent in 2013.
-- Ages 50-64: 44 percent in 2011 to 64 percent in 2013.
-- Ages 65 plus: 23 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2013.
Drivers were asked how distracting they found a variety of common occurrences and:
-- 34 percent said a hand-held phone was very distracting.
-- 14 percent said a hands-free phone was very distracting.
-- 76 percent said sending a text while driving was very distracting.
-- 62 percent said reading a text while driving was very distracting.
-- 4 percent said talking with a passenger was very distracting.
-- 41 percent said attending to children in the back seat was very distracting.
-- 53 percent said having a pet on a lap was very distracting.
-- 61 percent said reaching for a moving object was very distracting.