Distracted driving a bigger problem in U.S. than abroad

Distracted driving - Martinson & Beason, P.C.A recent study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that distracted driving and the resulting accidents are a larger problem in the United States than in Europe.

The CDC analyzed information several surveys done in 2011, which examined the driving behavior of thousands of residents of Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. The surveys asked citizens of varying ages in each country to self-report if they talked on a cell phone or read or sent text messages and email while driving at least once in the past month. The CDC found that the numbers varied dramatically between many of the U.S. and the European countries.

In the U.S. 68.7% (over two-thirds) of drivers ages 18 and 64 admitted to talking on their cell phone while behind the wheel in the previous month. Just under a third (31.2%) of American drivers in the same age range reported reading or sending texts and email messages while driving in the previous 30 days. This is in stark contrast to several of the Europeans countries surveyed. 20.5% of drivers had talked on their cell phone in the UK; in Portugal, 59.4%. In Spain, 15.1% reported texting or emailing while driving, a number half that of the U.S. In Portugal, this number was 31.3%.

The surveys found that there was little difference in distracted driving based on the sex of the person. However, there was a significant difference based upon age: the younger the person, the more likely that they had talked or texted on their phone while driving.

The study recommended examining the effectiveness of previous campaigns to reduce dangerous driving behaviors on distracted driving, including “a combination of legislation, sustained and highly visible enforcement, and ongoing public education campaigns.” It also encouraged studying upcoming vehicle technologies (like early warning in crashes) to decrease accidents caused by driving while distracted.