Distracting cell phone use is the No. 1 safety concern for drivers, according to a survey released by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
Talking on a cell phone or texting was listed by 38.8 percent of the surveyed drivers. Speeding and aggressive driving was ranked as the No. 2 concern with 17.6 percent. Drunk driving came in third at 12.6 percent.
The survey conducted in the late summer interviewed 1,801 drivers, ages 18 and over at gas stations in 15 counties throughout California. This is the second annual survey conducted by the OTS.
"This second year of surveying the opinions and habits of California's drivers shows how quickly they react to the real problems we all face on the road," said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy. "This information provides us with unique insight into the concerns of Californians. It is very telling that we've seen such a shift in opinions on cell phone use in just one year."
In 2010, 21.5 percent of drivers placed speeding and aggressive driving as the most problematic issue on the road, with cell phone usage in second, totaling a combined 18.3 percent between talking and texting.
Of those surveyed, 45.8 percent admitted to making driving mistakes while talking on a cell phone and 60.1 percent said that they have been hit or nearly hit by other drivers who were talking or texting.
Among the 18-24-year-old age group (the group with the highest text and drive percentage), however, drunk driving was listed as the biggest safety concern at 30.3 percent. This number is up from 11.5 percent in 2010.
Chris Cochran, the OTC Assistant Director of Public Affairs, told KPCC that although distracted-driver-related deaths are on the rise, drunk driving is by far the deadliest safety concern.
"It's the newness of the cell phone use that really has both made the problem grow very quickly," Cochran told the radio station. "And the public's perception of it has also grown."