Poll shows most drivers engage in "distracting" behaviors behind the wheel

A new poll conducted by Harris Interactive/HealthDay has found that most Americans admit to engaging in "distracting" behaviors when driving, including talking on cell phones, adjusting food and drinks and rear-view mirror glamorizing, USA Today reports.

According to the media outlet, the poll showed most adults who drive on a regular basis admitted to one of several distractions. In total, 86 percent admitted to eating or drinking non-alcoholic beverages while driving, 59 percent said they had set their GPS while moving, 14 percent admitted to applying makeup while driving and 37 percent stated they texted while behind the wheel – an action quickly becoming outlawed in states across the country.

Many drivers also said they had driven without being fully alert. About 25 percent of survey respondents admitted to driving after two or more drinks, while 44 percent stated they had felt very tired while driving, at times even "momentarily dozing off."

"The number of drivers who engage in potentially dangerous, in some cases extremely dangerous, behaviors while driving is terrifyingly high, particularly when you remember that every 1 percent of drivers polled represents more than one-and-three-quarters of a million people," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll. "While we have some information on how dangerous some of these behaviors are…we can only speculate as to the numbers of accidents and deaths that are caused by the many millions of people who drive while [performing these actions.]"

Previous research conducted on the subject has analyzed the dangers of distracted driving, with one study indicating texting while driving was involved in more than 16,000 deaths between 2007 and 2011. The study also noted that fatal auto crashes involving texting rose 28 percent from 2005 to 2008, the news source stated.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is becoming an "epidemic" on America's roadways. Nearly 5,500 people were killed and 450,000 more were injured in 2009, leading the U.S. Department of Transportation to crackdown on distracted driving.

Since 2009, the DOT has held two national distracted driving summits, banned all cell phone use for commercial drivers, encouraged as many as 35 states to create tougher distracted driving laws and developed a number of campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.

Other major distractions found in the poll included reading a map, watching videos and surfing the internet.