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Consumers Admit Phones Cause Careless Driving
[May 17, 2006]

Consumers Admit Phones Cause Careless Driving

SOUTHFIELD, Mich., May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite being aware of the dangers of holding a mobile phone while driving, consumers continue to put themselves and other drivers at risk, according to results from a public opinion poll and forthcoming study by the Polk Center for Automotive Studies. More than half (51 percent) of drivers surveyed say they observe careless driving due to mobile phone use on a daily basis, and 52 percent agree that their own driving suffers while on the phone.

The Polk study shows that mobile phone use is strongly perceived as a safety issue among American drivers. The vast majority of respondents (92 percent) agree that talking on the phone while driving increases the risk of accidents.
"There is an interesting disparity between consumer attitudes and their behavior," said Jeff Martini, vice president for the Polk Center for Automotive Studies. "For example, 82 percent of respondents agree that talking on a hands-free device is safer than using a hand-held phone, yet most (61 percent) admit they usually hold the phone while driving."
In addition, less than one third of respondents say they fully understand their state and local laws related to mobile phone use while driving, and the understanding of hands-free technology, like Bluetooth, is minimal. "Automakers that offer technology like Bluetooth would benefit by better promoting and demonstrating how the technology can help enhance safety on the road," added Martini.
Part of Polk's study focused on Bluetooth which is a short-range radio technology that enables devices such as laptops, phones, printers, pagers and specially equipped vehicles to communicate seamlessly without wires.
Awareness & Purchase Intentions
While 52 percent of respondents are at least somewhat familiar with the concept of Bluetooth technology, only 17 percent are very knowledgeable about its features. Still, more than three quarters of respondents (77 percent) will consider purchasing the technology, which is currently offered on many luxury brands. Similarly, 85 percent of luxury driving respondents will consider Bluetooth and two thirds (66 percent) of those considering this platform agree that the availability of the technology will make them consider a vehicle more seriously.
"Luxury brand drivers seem to be more sensitive to safety issues surrounding mobile phone use than non-luxury drivers," said Lonnie Miller, managing director of the Polk Center for Automotive Studies. "Better than 60 percent of drivers of a luxury brand observe careless driving in others on a daily basis, compared to only 48 percent of non-luxury drivers. Our study also revealed luxury drivers are more prone to admit their own carelessness while talking on the phone in the car."
This sensitivity may be leading luxury vehicle buyers to increase demand for integrated hands-free phone systems like Bluetooth, which create opportunity for both automakers and related technology providers.
"We've seen the luxury segment in the U.S. grow by almost 15 percent since 2002, and it's projected to top 2.5 million units by 2008," said Miller. "Our automotive clients are also telling us they expect more than three quarters of new luxury vehicles to be equipped with Bluetooth technology by 2008. If things go well, that's nearly two million luxury units over the next couple of years that will be equipped with convenient hands-free communication devices."
About the Study
A total of 505 vehicle owners, age 21 and older from across the U.S., participated in this study. Interviews were conducted March 28 - April 4, 2006. Complete results will be released in an upcoming report.
About the Polk Center for Automotive Studies
The Polk Center for Automotive Studies is a division of R. L. Polk & Co. that provides unique, comprehensive analyses and insight based on national or local public opinion polling and empirical Polk data. Findings from the Polk Center for Automotive Studies will provide the automotive industry and media with a deeper understanding of relevant and timely social, economic and marketplace issues affecting the automotive industry.
About R. L. Polk & Co.
R. L. Polk & Co. is the premier provider of automotive information and marketing solutions. Polk collects and interprets global data, and provides extensive automotive business expertise to help customers understand their market position, identify trends, build brand loyalty, conquest new business and gain a competitive advantage. Polk helps automotive manufacturers and dealers, automotive aftermarket companies, finance and insurance companies, advertising agencies, media companies, consulting organizations, government agencies and market research firms make good business decisions. A privately held global firm, Polk is based in Southfield, Mich. with operations in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. For more information, please visit .
R. L. Polk & Co.

CONTACT: Andrew Teachout of John Bailey & Associates,+1-248-362-4200 ext. 261, for R. L. Polk & Co.

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