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Why Do People Drive Distracted When They Know It's Dangerous?

Texas A&M Transportation Institute

USAA has teamed up with Texas A&M to find out why people take their eyes off the road when they don’t have to.

The cooperative survey is an attitudinal study designed to learn what behaviors distract drivers, and why they continue to engage in distracted driving even when they know it’s dangerous.

USAA’s Executive Director of Auto Underwriting Solutions, Joel Camarano, said the problem is a national epidemic. With distracted drivers crashing into walls, pedestrians, cars and cyclists, Camarano said it’s critical for the nation to get a handle on the causes, and implement a safety plan.

“Distracted driving is really difficult to track," he said, "but based on studies that have been done out there, anywhere from 25 to 40 percent of all car crashes are caused by some form of driver distraction. That’s a pretty huge percentage."

Texas A&M's Texas Transportation Institute will conduct the two-phase study over the course of a year. The first phase will ask people around the state to answer an anonymous survey.

The study will survey about 3,000 drivers at DPS offices scattered throughout the state.

"The second phase is going to be focus groups that hopefully will allow us to dig deeper and get into the results of these surveys," Camarano said.

USAA plans an education campaign based on the results with articles and materials to encourage drivers to be accountable for their behaviors behind the wheel.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.