Most Drivers Still Use Cellphones, Know It's Wrong

Texting-while-driving

We all do plenty of things we know we shouldn't do. (Double scoop of ice cream? Soaking in the summer sun? Watching “Jersey Shore”?) Though self-indulgence is one thing, it's unlikely anyone would want to get into a car accident caused by talking on a cellphone. Unfortunately, even though 91% of motorists know it’s unsafe to use a handheld cellphone while driving, nearly 60% of motorists still do it anyway, according to a new study from Harris Interactive, a market research company.

The good news is the number of motorists using cellphones while driving has dropped from 72% to 60%, according to Harris. Nearly 72% of 18- to 34-year-olds said they call and drive sometimes, while only 32% of people older than 66 said they did. Very few respondents said they used their cellphones while driving all the time.

While recent studies have shed doubt on the safety benefits of hands-free calling, nearly 77% of respondents think hands-free is safer than holding a cellphone. About 40% of respondents use hands-free calling devices now, up from 28% in 2006. 

Twenty-seven percent of motorists say they also text while driving, which many studies suggest is much more distracting than talking on a cellphone. Many states ban texting and driving, though the effectiveness of those laws has been called into question.

There is only mixed evidence as to whether texting or talking on a cellphone is any more distracting than having a conversation with passengers, adjusting the radio or having a blood-alcohol level of 0.08; the Governors Highway Safety Association claims that nearly 25% of all U.S. car crashes can be attributed to cellphone usage. However, from 2006 to 2009, the total number of car accidents in the U.S. declined from nearly 6 million to 5.5 million, while adoption of cellphones rose to nearly two-thirds of the population. 

No Talking While Driving (Media Post)

By Colin Bird | August 10, 2011 | Comments (11)

Comments 

drivers should undergo more seminars to make them realize how important traffic rules are..

Lance

I really wish people would realize the difference between talking on the phone through a "no hands" device, texting and holding the phone while talking.

I consider them to be totally different in risk and the amount of distraction to the driver. Texting is obviously totally wrong as it usually takes both hands and the eyes. Talking on the phone while holding it takes one hand off the wheel but tons of people drive with one hand on the wheel most of the time anyway. Talking through bluetooth is no more distractive than talking with someone in the car and I would propose that it is even less distractive than that because you don't constantly turn to look at the person in the passenger or back seat while on a bluetooth call.

All of these studies just reference "cell phone use" and the different ways we use them are drastically different in the amount of distraction involved.

I believe that talking on a handsfree phone is less dangerous than many other things we currently routinely do in vehicles. Until those are addressed they should just quit spending all this energy on normal cell phone use.

Dan

Lance,

Unfortunately your belief has nothing to do with it. Data are what matter, and the data show that using a handsfree device has no statistically significant difference on driving versus talking on a cellphone without one.

Matt C.

Using cell phones while driving gets my goat. Right now I see a woman on the highway with head down texting, nearly clipping my front bumper.

there are just people who couldn't care...much more follow rules...

Lance

@Dan
I did state it as a belief and not absolute proof but I believe it's ok to still state opinions in here.

Statistics are a funny thing...they can be twisted by the underlying collection methods. I contend the the studies are flawed as the ones I have seen don't differentiate between dialing, talking with handheld, talking handsfree and reading or typing a text msg. They just look at accident data and look for the "use" of cell phone as a possible contributing factor. They don't(and I know it would be hard) break it out.

My contention is that between those actions the order of distraction would be in this order with 1 being the most distractive.
1. Typing a text.
2. Reading a text.
3. Dialing a number.
4. Talking while holding phone.
5. Talking handsfree.

It's kind of like looking at accident data and saying that listening to a radio contributed to the accident because the radio was on. When it fact it may have been the "fiddling with radio" that distracted the driver and contributed to an accident. My daughter being guilty with the latter.

My problem with these studies is that there are many distractive things that we do when we drive and IMO talking on a handsfree is no more distractive than a crying kid in the backseat, eating, fiddling with the radio or ipod/mp3 player, shaving, applying makeup, doing nails, combing hair, falling asleep, etc etc.

I truly believe that some of these I just listed are even more dangerous than talking handsfree and the limited resources we have to study and regulate would be better spent on some of those. We don't outlaw having a one drink and driving, we outlaw being intoxicated and driving. I liken those to talking handsfree and texting. Huge difference.

The post by MattC right after yours is a good example. He says someone using a cellphone gets his goat and then mentions a woman with her head down obviously texting. That gets my goat too but someone driving along with both hands on the wheel and looking straight ahead at the road while talking handsfree certainly doesn't get my goat. In fact it doesn't bother me at all and certainly not as much as someone driving with one hand the wheel and waving their other hand in the air in discussion with a passenger. Which is more dangerous? Shall we outlaw passengers next or just talking to them while driving.

Let's use our money/energy to outlaw the truly dangerous actions/distractions and if we are too stupid or lazy to determine the diffence than we should leave it alone.

Matt C.

@ Lance

My post was a joke.
"Right now I see a woman..." is all present tense. How can I post about a woman right now if I wasn't doing the same thing she was.

There are already laws on the books for unsafe driving (at least in Texas), we don't need more laws. We need enforcement.

Lance

@Matt C
I just figured you were on your laptop while driving posting in cars.com. Really, just kidding. Sorry, I didn't catch your humor but hopefully you get my point between just talking versus being totally distracted like texting or something else that really requires both hand and eye coordination. And I totally agree with you about just enforcing the laws and quit making up new ones that are even harder to enforce. The police end up doing nothing due to overkill.

Matt C

Lance,

Humor is so hard when you can't project tone. I figure the only solution to people driving dangerously, is to drive like everyone else is trying to kill you. At that point you are already trying to avoid potential problems. It does make traffic driving more frustrating though.

i would also like to add what i wrote on my blog for you to help others see what this is doing, im also trying to find pictures of cashes to put on my site to show the reality of what texting and talking does while driving also verses drinking and drivingso far it has been said that 1000 people a week this year alonehave been hurt or killed over this. Its time for a wake up call to everyone so far talking and texting has shown to be worse then drinking and driving when accidents are considered

some people opt to learn things the hardest way, it's their right but to encroach on the basic right of others to live safely...

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