Poll reveals dangerous stuff motorists do behind the wheel


(CBS) Are you engaging in dangerous behavior when you're driving?

According to a new poll, it's probably the case.

The poll found nearly 90 percent of American adult drivers engage in dangerous "distracting behaviors." But the most surprising part of the poll: Most know what they're doing is dangerous and do it anyway.

"The number of drivers who engage in potentially dangerous, in some cases extremely dangerous, behaviors while driving is terrifyingly high, particularly when you remember that every 1 percent of drivers polled represents more than one-and-three-quarters of a million people," Humphrey Taylor, chairman of the Harris Poll, told HealthDay.

What dangerous behaviors are most drivers engaging in? The HealthDay and Harris Interactive poll found that while driving:

  • Eighty-six percent of drivers said they had eaten or drank something, 57 percent do it "often or sometimes."
  • 59 percent talk on a non-hands-free cellphone
  • Forty-one percent have messed with their GPS unit while driving, while 21 percent do it frequently.
  • Thirty-seven percent have read or sent text messages, 18 percent do it regularly.
  • Thirty-six percent admit reading a map, and 10 percent do it often or sometimes.
  • Twenty percent of drivers have done-up their hair. Nearly 10 percent do it regularly.
  • Fourteen percent have applied makeup, 7 percent do it frequently.
  • Thirteen percent have surfed the web, 9 percent do it often or sometimes.
  • Seven percent say they watch a video "often or sometimes."

According to HealthDay, earlier research suggests these numbers could even be higher. One 2010 study from the American Journal of Public Health said cell phone-related auto deaths climbed 28 percent between 2005 and 2008.

What's more, the poll found that drivers realize these activities are dangerous but engage in them anyway. Seventy-seven percent thought texting while driving ups the chances of an accident, and two-thirds thought applying makeup while driving was dangerous.

In 2009 more than 5,400 people died in crashes that involved a distracted driver, and nearly 448,000 were injured, says the CDC. To fight the trend, many states have enacted bans on texting while driving.

The CDC has more on distracted driving.