The FINANCIAL -- Despite overwhelming evidence proving the perils of distracted driving, the latest poll from PEMCO Insurance reveals that nearly half of Northwest drivers admit they illegally use their phones while driving – and a majority do it because they don't think it's "too dangerous." What's more, the worst offenders appear to be parents.
In a recent survey of Washington and Oregon residents, PEMCO found that about half of Northwest drivers (46 percent) admit to using their phone to talk or text while driving, at least on a few trips, when they know it's against the law.
Of those who fess up to phone use, a majority (51 percent) explain that they do it because they don't think the distraction is too dangerous in that moment. Others say they do it because they don't think they'll get caught.
"We all spot fellow drivers sneaking glances at their phones, probably even more frequently than drivers would like to admit. But our latest poll reveals a more troubling trend that these drivers aren't taking the risks of distracted driving seriously," said PEMCO spokesperson Derek Wing. "Even if it doesn't seem dangerous in the moment, the reality is there is never a safe time to take your attention away from the road or your surroundings – the consequences aren't worth it."
According to the poll, the worst offenders pose threats beyond the obvious horror stories of distracted driving – they are parents of children under 18 who run the risk of teaching their teen drivers the dangerously bad habits of texting and talking while driving.
PEMCO found that two-thirds of parents with kids in the home say they knowingly use their phone illegally while driving on at least a few trips. Only about half as many drivers without kids (38 percent) say they do the same.
And a recent national study confirms that parents' multitasking behind the wheel isn't going unnoticed. About half of teens polled think using a cell phone is the most dangerous thing they see their parents do behind the wheel.
"Not only do parents need to focus on the road, but they need to set a good example for their teen drivers," Wing said. "Teens – whom we are often quick to blame for phone-related offenses – are going to be more likely to learn safe driving habits if they see their parents following the law."
For a complete summary of PEMCO's poll results, visit www.pemco.com/poll, where you'll find the responses collected by FBK Research of Seattle in November 2015.