If you’re reading this while driving, put your phone down right now. This article — as engrossing as it is — will still be here when you reach your destination.
We provide that friendly bit of advice because, as The New York Times reported this morning, a whole bunch of motorists are occupying themselves with their smartphones — and distracting themselves from the road — in ways that go way beyond talking and texting, according to a new survey conducted by Braun Research for AT&T.
The pollsters surveyed 2,067 smartphone users who drive daily, and their findings should be frightening to anyone on the roads. More than six in 10 smartphone users surveyed say they text while driving. It gets scarier: Nearly 40 percent of smartphone users admit to checking in on social media while driving, with 27 percent admitting to using Facebook and another 14 percent saying they use Twitter and Instagram while behind the wheel. Of users who cop to posting on Twitter while driving, 30 percent say they do it “all the time.” Given those figures, it’s amazing that #TwitterAccident isn’t always trending.
Some other troubling stats from the survey: 17 percent snap selfies or other pictures when in the driver’s seat and 12 percent shoot videos — with 27 percent of those videographers thinking they can do so safely. Astoundingly, 10 percent of drivers say they video chat while on the roads.
AT&T says it will expand its It Can Wait public service campaign about the dangers of distracted driving, which launched in 2010, to focus on hazards beyond just texting. But as Matt Richtel of the Times points out, the AT&T campaign and other efforts like it face a stiff challenge in trying to counter the social pressures and strongly ingrained habits that keep people constantly checking their phones.
Tough laws and widespread educational efforts have been effective at reducing drunk driving and encouraging use of seat belts. But we still have a way to go in getting drivers to understand that “mobile” doesn’t mean when you’re behind the wheel. Right now, 46 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed texting while driving. As you can see above, that hasn't helped much yet. Smartphone users still need to be convinced of the danger they pose — or face — if they use their devices while driving.
As Lori Lee, AT&T’s global marketing officer, put it: “For the sake of you and those around you, please keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone.”
The federal government’s total non-defense discretionary spending – which covers everything from education and national parks to veterans’ medical care and low-income housing assistance – equals 3.2% of GDP in 2020, near historic lows going back to 1962, according to an analysis this week from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated this week that President Trump has now signed legislation that will add a total of $4.7 trillion to the national debt between 2017 and 2029. Tax cuts and spending increases account for similar portions of the projected increase, though if the individual tax cuts in the 2017 Republican overhaul are extended beyond their current expiration date at the end of 2025, they would add another $1 trillion in debt through 2029.
Are interest rates destined to move higher, increasing the cost of private and public debt? While many experts believe that higher rates are all but inevitable, historian Paul Schmelzing argues that today’s low-interest environment is consistent with a long-term trend stretching back 600 years.
The chart “shows a clear historical downtrend, with rates falling about 1% every 60 years to near zero today,” says Bloomberg’s Aaron Brown. “Rates do tend to revert to a mean, but that mean seems to be declining.”
Lawmakers are considering three separate bills that are intended to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Here’s an overview of the proposals, from a series of charts produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week. An interesting detail highlighted in another chart: 88% of voters – including 92% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans – want to give the government the power to negotiate prices with drug companies.