Too Much Talking, Texting and Driving

Mobile phone use during driving higher among Americans than among Europeans

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Yet many Americans still appear to report texting while driving or talking on cell phones while driving.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at mobile phone use while driving among Americans and Europeans.

The report offered findings from a survey that asked how often drivers had used their mobile phones to talk or text while driving.

The results showed US drivers report engaging in these risky activities far more often than Europeans.

"Don't text and drive."

The study, led by Rebecca B. Naumann, MSPH at the CDC, involved analyzing data collected from two lifestyle surveys in 2011.

One was the EuroPNStyles survey and the other was the HealthStyles survey. Within the US, the results represented responses from 3,696 respondents that represent the demographics of the US population in terms of sex, age, annual household income, race/ethnicity, household size, education, US Census region, Internet access and size of city.

Together, the surveys provided data on behaviors among the respondents in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The number of Europeans surveyed was 10,338.

The results showed a higher percentages of Americans reporting mobile phone use while driving than reported by Europeans.

For example, among drivers aged 18 to 64, 69 percent of Americans reported talking on the cell phone while driving at least once in the past month, compared to 21 percent of drivers in the United Kingdom.

The percentage was highest in Europe among the Portuguese with 59 percent of respondents reporting talking on the phone while driving.

While 31 percent of Americans and Portuguese residents reported reading or sending a text or email on their phones while driving, only 15 percent of Spanish residents reported as much.

Respondents were classified as "drivers" if they had driven within the past 30 days.

However, a limitation of the survey's results is that the researchers did not adjust their findings to find out how frequently the respondents drove in the past month.

The US residents surveyed may drive further distances more often than the European residents do, even if both have driven at least once within the past month.

Also, mobile phone use while driving is illegal in some European countries, so respondents may have been less likely to report doing an illegal activity than American respondents living in areas where the activity is not illegal.

The survey results did not reveal any differences by gender, but drivers aged 25 to 44 were more likely to report mobile phone use while driving than drivers aged 55 to 64.

"To address the problem of mobile device use while driving, countries could consider examining the use of road traffic injury prevention strategies that have been successful in reducing the prevalence of other road safety risk factors," the researchers wrote.

"The effectiveness of emerging vehicle and mobile communication technologies should be studied to assess their role in reducing crashes related to distracted driving," they wrote.

The report was published in the March 15 issue of the CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 17, 2013
Last Updated:
April 11, 2013