Cue the “Jersey Driver” jokes.
A newly-released poll shows drivers in New Jersey don’t trust other drivers to stay away from risky behind-the-wheel behaviors like eating, texting and talking on the phone, but also admit to doing many of those things themselves.
Those behaviors could have serious public health and safety repercussions, medical professionals say.
The results released Thursday are part of a new partnership for public health polls between Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, and surveyed 871 Garden State residents by phone over the summer.
Reading printed material, whether on paper or an electronic device, was ranked as the most risky action for a driver, followed by reading emails and texts, talking on a hand-held cell phone, eating and drinking, and talking with a hands-free device.
Still, many drivers also copped to doing some of those very things when they’re behind the wheel.
For instance, while 74 percent of respondents said talking on the phone is “very unsafe,” 17 percent admitted to making or receiving calls on all or most trips when they’re behind the wheel.
Also, 23 percent said eating and drinking while driving ranks as “very unsafe,” but 12 percent admitted they have food or beverages while driving most or all of the time.
“The ‘Jersey Driver’ ID implies a certain impatience and rudeness to those outside of the state, and perhaps risky driving behavior, which makes the stereotype a great place to start our new partnership,” said DavidRedlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling.
Seventy five percent of New Jersey drivers are in the car every day, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the most frequent drivers tended to view things like eating and drinking, and talking on a hands-free phone, less risky.
“The reality is that people will under-report behaviors they know to be undesirable,” said Redlawsk. “In particular, we suspect self-reporting of the most dangerous behaviors, like falling asleep or even texting and reading email, understates the truth. As passengers, New Jerseyans see the risk. As drivers, they don’t want to admit to taking those risks.”
There is some good news — sort of.
Only 5 percent of respondents admitted to dozing off behind the wheel within the last 30 days.
Want to confess your bad driving habits? Or tell us what other drivers do that drives you nuts? Call (267) 225-7299 and leave us a message, and we may use your comment on the air! Just don’t do it while you’re behind the wheel.