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Hitting the Road for Thanksgiving? Don't Surf and Drive

If you’re driving over the holiday, put your smartphone down, as a new survey indicates that mobile web use is contributing to distracted driving more than ever. “Though texting while driving remains a concern on the nation’s highways, people are also webbing while driving with increasing frequency,” says State Farm in a press release. “These behaviors may pose equal or greater concerns in the effort to reduce distracted driving.”

State Farm’s survey polled almost 4,000 drivers over the course of four years, and the data shows that more people are “webbing” behind the wheel. For drivers between 18 and 29 years old, reports of surfing the web while driving increased from 29 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2012, while checking email saw a 10-percent increase to 43 percent. “Social media sites are one of the biggest distractions,” writes Cars.com. “Drivers in this demographic who logged in to social media sites while behind the wheel increased from 21% in 2009 to 36% in 2012, the study found.”

State Farm says that internet usage behind the wheel increased from 13 percent in 2009 to 21 percent in 2012, regardless of age, and that reading social media networks like Facebook and Twitter went from 9 percent to 15 percent during the same period of time.

If 21 percent of drivers are webbing during holiday travel, that could amount to a staggering amount of internet usage behind the wheel. “From coast to coast, an overwhelming number of holiday travelers (ninety percent or 39.1 million pilgrims) will travel by automobile,” AAA says in a press release. According to AAA, the 45 percent of Thanksgiving travelers will hit the road today, with 36 percent planning to return Sunday.

Chris Mullen, Director of Technology Research at State Farm says that a multi-pronged approach can increase driver focus and combat distracted driving. “Regulation, enforcement, education and technology all have a role to play in making our roads safer for all who share them.”

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