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Cellphones, not bad drivers, called top danger on California roads

December 2, 2011 | 10:46 am

Woman texting while driving
California motorists who use cellphones are considered a bigger danger to fellow travelers than those who speed or drive aggressively, a new survey has found.

Nearly 40% of 1,801 motorists interviewed said their most pressing safety concern was other drivers who text or talk on their cellphones, according to a second annual survey from the state Office of Traffic Safety.

The survey was conducted over the summer at gas stations in 15 counties across the state. Last year's survey showed 18.3% of motorists considered cellphones a top danger while 21.5% said wreckless and fast driving were the main threats to road safety.

This year, those priorities changed, according to the survey, as motorists who considered speeding and aggressive driving the top danger fell to 17.6% and those who worried about cellphones soared.

Christopher J. Murphy, head of the traffic safety office, said even though the survey is still in its infancy, the two years of data help portray the habits and opinions of California motorists.

"This information provides us with unique insight into the concerns of Californians," Murphy said. "It is very telling that we've seen such a shift in opinions on cellphone use in just one year."


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Photo: A driver uses her cellphone. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times