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Report calls 'webbing while driving' the new danger among motorists

One in five fiddle with smart phones on the road, insurance survey says.

March 05, 2011|David Sarno

Forget texting and driving or talking on the phone and driving. Those dangerous habits are old hat. The new worry, according to a survey released this week by State Farm, is what the insurance company cleverly calls "webbing while driving."

It includes looking up Web pages, following driving directions, reading and composing e-mails, checking Facebook and twiddling with smart-phone apps — activities that require sustained concentration and multiple key presses.

Among the 912 smart phone users State Farm surveyed, more than 19% "webbed" while driving, the company said. That's almost one smart-phone-equipped driver out of five.

"This research takes us one step closer to understanding the driver distractions that affect everyone on our roadways," Cindy Garretson, State Farm's director of auto technology research, said in a statement.

The survey respondents said they tend to "web" in heavy traffic, stopped at a red light, during daylight hours, or on long drives on the open road.

As a caveat, the survey was conducted online so it is more likely to include tech-savvy individuals and younger people.

However, as the State Farm study points out, close to 40% of Americans now have smart phones, and that number is growing fast.

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