Local News

Survey Says Rubbernecking No. 1 Driver Distraction

Posted March 14, 2003

— There are a lot of driver distractions that lead to traffic accidents: Cell phones. . . Driver fatigue. . . Kids in the back seat. What causes the most crashes? A new survey is out, and the results may surprise you.

The

Transportation and Safety Training Center at Virginia Commonwealth University

says it has done one of the largest studies on crashes involving distracted drivers.

The survey considered both rural and urban counties, a diverse ethnic population and varying road conditions.

Rubbernecking -- drivers looking at other crashes, traffic or roadside incidents -- caused the most crashes. Driver fatigue was next, followed by looking at scenery or landmarks.

Child distractions ranked fourth. Adjusting the radio or CD player was fifth.

Way down in sixth place? Cell phones.

That's surprising based on driver activity at the intersection of Blue Ridge Road and Hillsborough Street on Thursday. It was easy to spot drivers eating and talking on cell phones.

Though the survey indicated that perhaps cell phones are not as bad a distraction as people may think, don't tell that to the neighborhood state trooper.

"The mere fact that it's listed sixth doesn't mean that it's OK," a trooper said Thursday. "And that it doesn't cause collisions -- one fatality caused by talking on the cell phone is too many in North Carolina."

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