UCSD: Nearly 60 percent of seniors use phone while driving

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - There's plenty of data on the dangers of texting and using cell phones while driving, especially for young drivers. But what about older drivers?

A University of California San Diego study looked into cell phone use by adults, age 65 and older, and found that nearly 60 percent of seniors use their cell phones on the road. The report surveyed driving habits of 397 anonymous adults, in which 82 percent owned a smartphone.

Despite this, the study found that older drivers are less distracted than younger drivers, according to Linda Hill, professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UCSD School of Medicine.

"When adults are driving distracted with children in the car, not only does it put children at risk, but they are also modeling risky behavior," said Hill. "No call is so urgent that it can’t wait until the driver is able to pull over to a safe place."

The study recognizes that some older adults suffer from medical conditions that can affect their ability to drive safety. That's why they say it's all the more reason to eliminate any distractions.

"There is concern that adding distraction to the reduced skills of some older adults will increase these crash rates even further," Hill said.

Other figures:

  • 75 percent of seniors felt they are capable of using a hands-free device while driving.
  • 27 percent drover children younger than 11-years-old in last month. Out of that, 42 percent talked on the phone while doing so.
  • Men, people who drive more miles per week, and those who are self-employed drove distracted most often.
  • 3 percent of senior drivers had received a ticket for cell phone use.
  • Using a phone, hands-free or handheld, increases the risk of crashing four times.
  • Texting increases right of crashing eight to 16 times.

"Our goal in conducting these surveys is to better understand the patterns and attitudes people have towards distracted driving," Hill said. "This allows us to develop interventions to promote a culture of roadway safety by educating the public and implementing efforts that can save the lives of all California drivers."

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