Rochester Drivers More Likely to Talk and Text Behind the Wheel
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"I think a lot of people think it's not going to happen to them,” said Mark O’Donnell, New York State Police.
In a world of rules, some are broken more than others.
"We see it all the time,” O’Donnell said. "It's really an epidemic."
A new study claims Rochester area drivers are more likely to break one of them than people in other places.
"I was a little bit surprised,” said Todd Butler, Ad Council of Rochester.
The Ad Council hit up some of Rochester's busiest intersections, looking for people who text or talk on their phone while driving. Ninety-five percent said they'd seen it in the last month.
"Maybe those other five percent haven't been on the road in the last 30 days because we've all seen it."
It's against the law to use hand-held mobile devices while behind the wheel. Still, one in three surveyed in Rochester admitted to doing it themselves, and more than 40 percent among young people. The survey concludes most people know it's wrong.
“Even with those things in mind, knowing it's an issue, knowing it's not safe, people are still doing what we really don't want them to do,” Butler said.
Experts say it's a sign of the times.
"If you're driving around during the day, people you work with expect that they can get ahold of you at any time. Family members expect they can get ahold of you, even for the smallest need, at any point in time,” said Butler.
"I just know a lot of people do it in this area. I see it when I'm working. I see it when I'm off-duty,” O’Donnell said.
Police are trying to get a handle on the problem.
"When people are texting, they're so engrossed in their conversation that they have no idea what's going on in the world around them," said O’Donnell.
In the survey, one in four drivers in Rochester admitted to texting while driving in the last month. That's well above the national average of 18 percent. Law enforcement admits catching them can be tricky.
"It is challenging to catch someone," O’Donnell said.
The Ad Council conducted the survey in advance of a campaign against distracted driving, which will be rolled out later this month. It showed no discernable difference between men and women. They break the law at the same rate.
Cops say offenders who they pull over often tell them they're being safe. But police say there's no such thing.
"People don't realize how dangerous it is."