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NHTSA survey finds 660,000 drivers while driving at any given daylight moment using cell phones or electronic devices

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released new survey results that show that Americans continue to use electronic devices while driving, despite warnings that it causes their own driving to deteriorate and can lead to crashes, injuries and even death. The new data are being released at the start of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Nopus
Driver use of electronic devices, 2002-2011. Source: NOPUS. Click to enlarge.

The new data include statistics from the 2012 Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors Survey and the 2011 National Occupant Protection Use Survey on Driver Electronics Use, as well as the 2011 Distraction Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data. All three reports are being highlighted in the premier issue of NHTSA’s SAFETY 1N NUM3ERS online monthly auto safety newsletter.

The 2011 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) shows that at any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010. According to separate NHTSA data, more than 3,300 people were killed in 2011 and 387,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

According to NHTSA’s 2012 National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors, most drivers support bans on hand-held cell phone use (74%) and texting while driving (94%). On average, these drivers thought the fines for these offenses should be at least $200.

So far 39 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. Also 10 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.

More than 6,000 respondents age 16 and older were interviewed by phone for the National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors. Almost half of drivers said they answer an incoming call and one in four drivers are willing to place a call on all, most, or some trips.

Slightly fewer are willing to make a call while driving compared to 2010 (28% to 24%), but there is little if any change in those who answer a call while driving (52% to 49%). Considering that in 2011 there were almost 212 million licensed drivers in the America, about 102 million drivers were answering calls and 50 million drivers were placing calls while driving.

Comments

Trevor Carlson

Distracted driving should be a ticketable offense carrying a greater fine than speeding. Speeding by itself does not harm anyone unless. Going too fast for road conditions and now being aware however does.

Such an offense would not require anything but video surveillance for proof. If anyone looks away from the road for 2-3 seconds at a time more than 3 times in 30 seconds I would call that "distracted". Theoretically that could apply to parents driving with crazy kids in the car too. If a vehicle displays excessive swerving or braking that would also be a sign that they are not paying attention.

However If there were a passenger in the vehicle with a driving license, the distraction intervals could be decreased since there would theoretically and practically be someone to help the driver stay aware of the driving situation.

The fact that someone would get pulled over for distracted driving at all would be proof that they were not sufficiently aware of their surroundings to notice a law enforcement vehicle was nearby.

Such a law should be common sense but it puts extra burden on law enforcement to prove (compared to speeding) so it's unlikely it would be as widely enforced.

Brotherkenny4

Each and every one of those devices has an exploding li ion battery in it too. Blammo!!! No wonder their are so many deaths by car fire, it's the exploding phones.

Kit P

"so many deaths by car fire“

If my car caught on fire, I would stop and get out.

HarveyD

Speed trap cameras do a very good job to detect and identify drivers using cell phones and/or driving too faster or breaking other highway regulations, etc.

Stiff fines ($160 to $400) gave quick results. Well located camera collected $18M/year each. They can be moved periodically for best on-going results.

It may be the only way to convince reluctant drivers to change their dangerous driving habits.

Patricia Osteen

I'm hoping for the best! By the way do you know how to write acknowledgement for project? This would be awesome!

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