College Students Admit To Distracted Driving

Nearly 80% of Local College Students Use Cell Phone While Driving

Almost 80 percent of college students in San Diego County admit to using a cell phone while driving, and about half send or receive text messages, according to a UC San Diego study released Tuesday.

» Sign Up For Breaking News Alerts» Like Us On Facebook» Follow Us On Twitter

Narges Izadi, a UCSD student, is one of the thousands who said they are guilty of talking and texting behind the wheel.

"I do personally," Izadi said. "I do try to park the car before I do."

UC San Diego's Trauma Epidemiology and Injury Prevention Research Center gathered the data from about 5,000 students at the area's four universities and eight colleges.

"Distracted driving is a highly prevalent behavior in college students who have misplaced confidence in their own driving skills and their ability to multitask," said Dr. Linda Hill, clinical professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. "Despite the known dangers, distracted driving has become an accepted behavior."

She added, "We wanted to look at college students as we know that they've been very affected by the communication revolution."

Among the results of the study: -- 78 percent reported driving while talking or texting on a cell phone -- 52 percent reported using hands-free devices at least some of the time -- 47 percent said they use hands-free devices at least half of the time -- 25 percent frequently use hands-free devices -- 50 percent said they send texts while driving on freeway -- 60 percent said they send texts while in stop-and-go traffic or on city streets -- 87 percent send texts while at traffic signals -- 12 percent said they never text while driving, not even at a traffic light.

"This study highlights the high prevalence of distracted driving in college students, including texting while driving, something we see first-hand each and every day," said Robert Clark, the California Highway Patrol's assistant chief for the Border Division. "The demonstration of misplaced confidence in their own and others' ability to multitask may lead to opportunities for us to educate and employ some risk abatement strategies."

Talking on a cell phone while driving increases the risk of crashes four-fold, with no difference in safety between phones and hands-free devices, according to the researchers. Texting increases the risk of a wreck eight to 16 times, they said.

Detective Brian MacPherson, who is with the UCSD Police Department says there are too many violators to ticket them all.

"In some cases I have found myself issuing a citation for distracted driving and the driver will say, 'Well, what about this person right over here?'" he said.

MacPherson added, "In many cases, these wireless devices are very involved in the education and in the research."

He said students are so focused on the technology that they are part of the problem.

"In that split second that it takes to send that text message that distracted walker has now walked in front of the car," he said.

10News took to the street and caught many more distractions than cell phone use, including people eating, drinking, reading and driving with dogs. All can prove fatal in a single moment.

CHP San Diego commander Capt. Rich Stewart said a person is 400 percent more likely to be involved in a crash while texting than while driving under the influence.

"It's one of the toughest things you can have to do: to have to tell someone's parent their loved one has died, especially if it's their child," he said. "I mean, it's just not supposed to happen that way."

Print this article Back to Top