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Experts Say Distracted Driving Among College Students in San Diego on Upswing 

 

April 24, 2012 

UC San Diego researchers join CHP this morning to educate students and public

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CADMV), distracted driving is on the rise due to an increase in the use of cell phones and other electronic devices and the increasing importance of these devices in individuals’ lives.  Studies have shown that phoning and driving increases the risk of crashes four-fold, with hands free and hand held devices equally dangerous.  Texting increases this risk 8-16 times.

A team of experts from UC San Diego's Trauma Epidemiology and Injury Prevention Research Center analyzed driving habits in college and university students in San Diego County. The team will share the results at a media conference along with the California Highway Patrol at 10 a.m., Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at the UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, near the Emergency entrance on Front Street.

“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 Linda Hill, MD, MPH, clinical professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine.  “Despite the known dangers, distracted driving has become an accepted behavior.”

“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 assistant chief Robert Clark, Border Division, California Highway Patrol.  “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.”

Nearly 5,000 students from University of California San Diego, San Diego State University, University of San Diego, CSU San Marcos and eight smaller colleges in the region completed the study.  The average age was 21 years old; 66 percent female; 83 percent were undergraduates; 17 percent graduates.

Distracted Driving Behaviors

  • 78 percent reported driving while using a cell phone (talking or texting)
  • 52 percent reported using hands free devices at least some of the time
  • 47 percent said they use hands free at least 50 percent of the time
  • Only 25 percent used hands free with high frequency
  • 50 percent said they send texts while driving on freeway
  • 60 percent said they send texts while in stop and go traffic or in city streets
  • 87 percent send texts while at traffic lights
  • Only 12 percent said they never text, not even at a traffic light

In addition to Hill, the UC San Diego research team included Jill Rybar, MPH, Tara Styer, MPH, and Ethan Fram.

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Media Contact: Kim Edwards, 619-543-6163, kedwards@ucsd.edu

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