December 15, 2011

Texting, Talking on the Phone and Driving

27 and 61

The federal government has proposed banning the use of personal electronic devices while driving. How widespread is that use? A Pew Research Center study found that 27% of American adults say they have texted while driving, and 61% say they have talked on their cell phones while behind the wheel.

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board proposed a nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. The NTSB called on the states and the District of Columbia to implement the ban.

One in four (27%) American adults say they have texted while driving, and 61% say they have talked on their cell phones while behind the wheel. When it comes to teens, 26% said they have texted and 43% said they have talked on their cell phones while driving.

In addition, 49% of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages. Overall, 44% of adults say they have been passengers of drivers who used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

Texting and talking on the phone is not all people do behind the wheel. A Pew Research Center survey from 2006 found that as Americans spend more time in their cars they engage in a range of activities while driving.

Nearly seven-in-ten drivers (68%) say they have sung out loud while driving. Roughly four-in-ten (41%) say they have eaten a meal while driving and nearly as many (38%) report having shouted or cursed at other drivers in the past year. Other behaviors are less common — 16% of drivers have done personal grooming while driving, 6% have read while driving and another 6% admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year.

These findings on texting and talking on the phone while driving come from a nationwide phone survey of 2,252 American adults conducted between April 29 and May 30, 2010. The figures for teens come from a 2009 survey. Read More