Sex behind the wheel?

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It is truly unbelievable what people are doing while driving. The results of our survey show that so many people are distracted and doing other things while on the road - even though they know the consequences that can occur.” –Jonas Forsberg, mobile division general manager-North America, GN Netcom, Inc.

It’s a headline bound to grab the attention of even the most jaded reporter: 15% of respondents to six-country online survey admit to having sex or performing sexual acts behind the wheel WHILE DRIVING. As that action hero sidekick Robin used to say: “Holy Toledo, Batman!

The survey – funded by Jabra, a division of GN Netcom that makes driver headset and speaker-phone systems and conducted by Lindberg International – is based on responses from 1,800 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65, with an equal number from the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and Japan.

Conducted over a period commencing April 6 through April 9 this year, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1%, the survey asked respondents how often they performed specific activities while driving and how dangerous they consider the activities. The majority (75%) drives an average of 10 hours or less per week. Here’s what the survey uncovered:

• 29% of respondents admitted to having kissed others while driving, whereas a smaller, but surprising number (15%) said they have performed sex or other sexual acts while driving

• 28% confirmed they have sent text messages while driving

• 13% reported they have applied makeup while driving

• 12% admitted to having written or read emails while driving

• 10% reported reading newspapers or magazines while driving

• And 5% confessed to playing video games while driving, with another 5% saying they shaved while behind the wheel

Other factors gleaned from Lindberg’s polling: some 35% of respondents admitting that they have taken clothes off or put clothes on while the car is in motion, while another 23% admitting to often styling their hair. The majority (72%) copped to eating food while driving, prompting Jonas Forsberg, mobile division general manager-North America, GN Netcom, Inc., to say, for safety of other drivers, “it’s important to keep both hands on the wheel, not the meal.”

On a more serious note, road rage in general appears to be a growing global issue, with 63% of those polled saying that they yell at other motorists while driving – and the French appear to be the biggest offenders in this category.

It’s also worthy of note that only a small percentage (32%) of the surveyed drivers say they're using a hands-free device when talking on the phone while driving – even though it’s the law in many of their countries.

Young people (age 18-35) from all countries also appear to be engaging in bad driving behaviors with higher frequency, but at the same time don't feel that these activities are as dangerous as perceived by those who are older.

Across the board, the Japanese are the worst offenders when it comes to personal grooming while driving, along with being the heaviest users of video games, movies, audio books, and music devices while operating a motor vehicle. Alternatively, the British appear to be more safety oriented with the highest level of awareness around highly dangerous driving behaviors.

Of course, as with all surveys, there’s a grain of salt that needs to be added. I mean, really – if YOU were offered an opportunity to take a survey that listed ‘sex behind the wheel’ as a possible answer, wouldn’t YOU feel at least tempted to respond ‘YES’ even if in truth it’s something you (hopefully) would never do? There is always the ‘mischievous’ factor to consider when polls pursue such a line of question.

Still, despite the survey’s small size and the above-mentioned ‘mischievous’ factor, the data gleaned from this survey clearly says a lot of work remains in terms of changing driver behaviors – and it won’t be a short-term process, that is for sure.

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