Cell Phone Use

Cell Phone UseIt is difficult to accurately determine the number of drivers that use cell phones when behind the wheel, yet there is evidence to suggest that it happens daily. Utilizing criminal reports and observational witnesses, the government estimated that the number of drivers using cell phones tripled in the last decade from 4 to 12%. However, the estimate declined to 10% in 2009.

Approximately half of those drivers were communicating on handheld devices at some point during the day, according to observational records. This amounts to a daily total of close to 700,000 drivers using cell phones while operating a passenger vehicle.

In contrast, a telephone survey done by an independent group in 2009 implies that cell phone use may be slightly less than the government indicates. According to the survey of over 1,000 drivers, individuals spent an average of one hour behind the wheel each day, with roughly 4 of those minutes on a cell phone. Mathematically, this comes to about 7%, a 3 percent discrepancy between the two estimates.

The varying results could reflect a bias on the part of one study, or a failure of methodology. Government statistics were gathered by researchers observing behavior at intersections along with self-reported data. The independent study depends on responses given by individuals, who may have drastically understated their cell phone use.

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