The Amazingly Stupid Things Smartphone Users Do While Driving

The Amazingly Stupid Things Smartphone Users Do While Driving

By Yuval Rosenberg

If you’re reading this while driving, put your phone down right now. This article — as engrossing as it is — will still be here when you reach your destination.

We provide that friendly bit of advice because, as The New York Times reported this morning, a whole bunch of motorists are occupying themselves with their smartphones — and distracting themselves from the road — in ways that go way beyond talking and texting, according to a new survey conducted by Braun Research for AT&T.

The pollsters surveyed 2,067 smartphone users who drive daily, and their findings should be frightening to anyone on the roads. More than six in 10 smartphone users surveyed say they text while driving. It gets scarier: Nearly 40 percent of smartphone users admit to checking in on social media while driving, with 27 percent admitting to using Facebook and another 14 percent saying they use Twitter and Instagram while behind the wheel. Of users who cop to posting on Twitter while driving, 30 percent say they do it “all the time.” Given those figures, it’s amazing that #TwitterAccident isn’t always trending.

Related: Here's How Much Likelier You Are to Be Killed in a Car Than on Amtrak

Some other troubling stats from the survey: 17 percent snap selfies or other pictures when in the driver’s seat and 12 percent shoot videos — with 27 percent of those videographers thinking they can do so safely. Astoundingly, 10 percent of drivers say they video chat while on the roads.

 

AT&T says it will expand its It Can Wait public service campaign about the dangers of distracted driving, which launched in 2010, to focus on hazards beyond just texting. But as Matt Richtel of the Times points out, the AT&T campaign and other efforts like it face a stiff challenge in trying to counter the social pressures and strongly ingrained habits that keep people constantly checking their phones.

Tough laws and widespread educational efforts have been effective at reducing drunk driving and encouraging use of seat belts. But we still have a way to go in getting drivers to understand that “mobile” doesn’t mean when you’re behind the wheel. Right now, 46 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed texting while driving. As you can see above, that hasn't helped much yet. Smartphone users still need to be convinced of the danger they pose — or face — if they use their devices while driving.

As Lori Lee, AT&T’s global marketing officer, put it: “For the sake of you and those around you, please keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.”

 

Increasing Number of Americans Delay Medical Care Due to Cost: Gallup

iStockphoto
By The Fiscal Times Staff

From Gallup: “A record 25% of Americans say they or a family member put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of the cost, up from 19% a year ago and the highest in Gallup's trend. Another 8% said they or a family member put off treatment for a less serious condition, bringing the total percentage of households delaying care due to costs to 33%, tying the high from 2014.”

Number of the Day: $213 Million

A security camera hangs near a corner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington
Jonathan Ernst
By The Fiscal Times Staff

That’s how much the private debt collection program at the IRS collected in the 2019 fiscal year. In the black for the second year in a row, the program cleared nearly $148 million after commissions and administrative costs.

The controversial program, which empowers private firms to go after delinquent taxpayers, began in 2004 and ran for five years before the IRS ended it following a review. It was restarted in 2015 and ran at a loss for the next two years.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who played a central role in establishing the program, said Monday that the net proceeds are currently being used to hire 200 special compliance personnel at the IRS.

US Deficit Up 12% to $342 Billion for First Two Months of Fiscal 2020: CBO

District of Columbia
By The Fiscal Times Staff

The federal budget deficit for October and November was $342 billion, up $36 billion or 12% from the same period last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated on Monday. Revenues were up 3% while outlays rose by 6%, CBO said.

Hospitals Sue to Protect Secret Prices

iStockphoto/The Fiscal Times
By The Fiscal Times Staff

As expected, groups representing hospitals sued the Trump administration Wednesday to stop a new regulation would require them to make public the prices for services they negotiate with insurers. Claiming the rule “is unlawful, several times over,” the industry groups, which include the American Hospital Association, say the rule violates their First Amendment rights, among other issues.

"The burden of compliance with the rule is enormous, and way out of line with any projected benefits associated with the rule," the suit says. In response, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said that hospitals “should be ashamed that they aren’t willing to provide American patients the cost of a service before they purchase it.”

See the lawsuit here, or read more at The New York Times.