Study reveals that many cell phone users drive at a risk
people than ever are driving under the influence of their
cell phones, according to a survey released by the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
survey showed that, during the typical daylight moment in
2004, 5% of drivers on the road were holding cellular phones
to their ears, compared to 4% in 2002, and 3% in 2000. These
results are from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey
(NOPUS), which provides the only probability-based observed
data on driver cell phone use in the United States. The
NOPUS is conducted annually by the National Center for Statistics
and Analysis in the NHTSA.
NOPUS's finding of 5% use of hand-held phones in 2004 translates
into an estimated 800,000 vehicles on the road during the
typical daylight moment in 2004 driven by someone holding
a phone. It also means that approximately 8% of drivers
were using wireless phones in some manner, whether they
were holding the phone or using some hands-free device.
All that talking is a potential safety issue, said NHTSA
spokesman Rae Tyson.
we don't have hard evidence that there's been an increase
in the number of crashes, we know that talking on the phone
can degrade driver performance," Tyson said.
2004 NOPUS also found the following:
cell phone use increased among drivers between the ages
of 16 and 24, from 5% in 2002 to 8% in 2004.
cell phone use increased among female drivers, from 4%
in 2002 to 6% in 2004.
are more likely to use their phones when they are driving
alone. In 2004, 6% of drivers observed driving alone were
holding cell phones, compared to 2% among drivers who
had at least one passenger.
the first nationwide observed estimate of driver headset
use, the NOPUS found that 0.4% of drivers were speaking
with headsets on in 2004.
all the 50 states, only New York, New Jersey and the District
of Columbia prohibit talking on hand-held cell phones while
driving, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
Some communities, such as Brookline, Mass., Santa Fe, N.M.,
and Lebanon, Pa., require hands-free cell phones, but about
a half-dozen states prohibit local governments from restricting
cell phone use in motor vehicles.
drivers, between 16 and 24, increased their talking on cell
phones by 60 percent between 2002 and 2004. The National
Transportation Safety Board said it wants all 50 states
to ban those with learner's permits from using cell phones
or other wireless devices while driving. New Jersey and
Maine are the only two that have passed such laws.
survey was conducted between June 7 and July 11, 2004, at
1,200 road sites across the country and, in some cases,
supplemented by telephone surveys.