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New Concern on the Road: Facebooking While Driving

John Egan

You’ve heard how much of a danger texting and talking while driving is. Now, there’s a growing threat on the road: Facebooking while driving. It’s especially prevalent among drivers 18 to 29 years old.

A survey by State Farm shows the number of 18- to 29-year-old drivers who are reading posts on social networking sites jumped from 21 percent in 2009 to 37 percent in 2011. Updating of social networks while driving rose from 20 percent in 2009 to 33 percent in 2011.

Among all drivers surveyed, reading posts on social networks while driving increased from 9 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2011. Updating social networks while driving climbed from 9 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2011.

“The mobile web is a growing issue for safety advocates concerned about distractions while driving,” David Beigie, State Farm’s vice president of public affairs, says in a news release.

In 2010, about 3,000 people died in distraction-related car crashes in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the State Farm survey, accessing the Internet on a cellphone while driving rose from 29 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2011 among 18- to 29-year-olds. For all drivers, the number went from 13 percent in 2009 to 18 percent in 2011.

The survey showed that texting while driving was flat or actually was decreasing in some instances.

For drivers 18 to 29, 71 percent said they engaged in texting while driving in 2009. That number dropped to 64 percent in 2011. For all drivers, this number stayed relatively flat: 31 percent in 2009 compared with 32 percent in 2011.

State Farm, the country’s biggest car insurance company, questioned nearly 900 motorists for the survey.

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