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A scary number of people use shopping apps while driving

In 2018, a record number of people did their Black Friday shopping online. That should mean less traffic at the malls and fewer accidents, right?

But a new survey shows that an alarming number of online shoppers are doing it while driving! They can't resist "hot deals" that pop up on their smartphone.

Shopping while driving: the new distracted driving

The Harris Poll and Root Insurance sampled 2,000 adults about their driving and smartphone habits. The disturbing survey results revealed that 1 in 3 people who shop via smartphones or tablets say then have done so while driving.

The practice is most prevalent during the holiday season. On the heels of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday frenzy, retailers push notifications of time-sensitive deals, new products or price drops. It's too tempting for some drivers to pass up.

This takes distracted driving to a whole new level. It adds another element of danger for those of us engaging the simple task of crossing the street or driving around town. The holidays are already peak season for parking lot accidents. If drivers are texting or using retail apps while cruising downtown or driving through parking lots, it puts pedestrians and other drivers at great risk.

Is shopping while driving illegal?

California law bans use of handheld mobile devices while driving. However, the law does allow the use of dash-mounted devices. Drivers can manipulate their smartphones with a swipe or finger tap as long as they are not holding it in their hands.

Of course, many people who are shopping or texting while driving have the phone in their hand, in blatant violation of the law. Some even put it in their lap to hide their illegal behavior, which is even more dangerous because they are looking down.

But even if a person was shopping on a legally mounted device, it is still negligence if they cause a crash while distracted. Their first duty is safely operate a motor vehicle. There will be plenty of shopping deals when they're not driving.

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