2011 Survey – Distracted Driving Behaviors of San Diego County College Students

College Student Cell Phone Survey

Dr. Linda Hill (UCSD), Captain Rich Stewart (CHP), and Detective Brian MacPherson (UCSD Police) address the public at a Press Conference on April 24th, 2012.

2011 Survey: Distracted Driving Behaviors of San Diego County College Students

The 2011 Distracted Driving Behaviors of San Diego County College Students Survey was undertaken to characterize distracted driving in college and university students between the ages of 18 – 29 years attending educational institutions in San Diego County. The survey was developed to address demographic characteristics, detailed driving behaviors and attitudes, and opinions towards contingencies that could affect distracted driving. The survey was validated with pilot testing at UC San Diego and implemented during the last quarter of 2011.

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; 66 percent were female; 83 percent were undergraduates; and 17 percent were graduate students.

Distracted Driving Behaviors of College Students:

  • 90 percent of respondents reported phoning and driving at least some of the time
  • 47 percent use hands-free at least half of the time; 25 percent use hands-free with high frequency
  • 50 percent reported sending texts while driving on the freeway; 60 percent while in stop-and-go traffic or on city streets; 87 percent while stopped at traffic lights; and 12 percent reported never texting
  • There were 1,031 total crashes reported due to distraction, with some respondents reporting more than one collision. Of the behaviors that contributed to these crashes, 22 percent were the result of texting and 14 percent talking on a cellphone
  • When asked about their capability to drive distracted, 46 percent said they were capable or very capable of talking on a cell phone and driving, but they felt only 8.5 percent of other drivers were capable
  • 98 percent of respondents had observed drivers of other vehicles using the phone, and 91 percent said they had been passengers in vehicles with drivers who were talking on the phone at least once
  • In addition, 81 percent of passengers said the driver of vehicles they were in had texted at least some of the time

Respondents would be likely to change their behavior based on the following scenarios:

  • 89 percent: if a citation resulted in license suspension of 3 months
  • 86 percent: if a citation increased the cost of automobile insurance by 30 percent
  • 84 percent: if a citation resulted in a fine of $350 for a first offense
  • 83 percent: if a citation resulted in 1 point on their driving record
  • 69 percent: if insurance companies did not cover crashes resulting from distracted driving
  • Drivers’ self-efficacy for driving and multitasking in the car, coupled with a greater likelihood of having witnessed distracted driving behaviors in others, greatly increased the probability that a student would engage in distracted driving. Most students felt that policies, such as laws impacting driving privilege and insurance rate increases, would influence their behavior.