Drivers who commute long distances are more likely to speed and use a handheld cell phone than drivers who travel shorter distances to work or don't commute at all, according to a new study by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
The survey of 1,002 New Jersey drivers age 17 and older found that 61 percent of those who drive 20 miles or more to work say they do more than 65 mph on the highway "most of the time" or "often," compared to 53 percent of those with shorter drives and 42 percent of those who don't drive to work.
Among long-distance commuters, 39 percent are more likely to travel at 70 mph on New Jersey highways, versus 22 percent of drivers with commutes under 20 miles.
Almost one in five drivers with long commutes, 19 percent, say they talk on a handheld phone while driving, compared to 17 percent of those with shorter commutes and 9 percent of those who don't drive to work.
Commuters are also much more likely to text and drive with 32 percent of short commuters and 31 percent of long commuters saying they text and drive, compared to 16 percent of drivers who don't commute to work.
"Texting while driving appears to be out of control on our roads," Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety said in a press statement. "It is frightening when you consider the dangerous combination of texting and speeding."
Meanwhile, about three-quarters of drivers with long commutes, 76 percent, rate their driving skills above average, compared to 66 percent of those with shorter commutes and those who don't drive to work.
Drivers who commute long distances also are more likely to express their frustration toward other drivers, with 36 percent admitting they've made a rude gesture at another driver, compared to 25 percent of those who don't drive to work.
"It makes sense for drivers with long hauls to work to get more frustrated," principal investigator Dan Cassino said in a prepared statement. "They feel like they know these roads better, they're better drivers, and they just want everyone else to get out of their way."
Mileage is among factors insurers consider when setting car insurance rates, and many companies offer discounts for drivers who log fewer miles. Speeding, texting while driving and other unsafe behaviors can lead to higher insurance premiums if they result in accidents.