Distracted driving certainly seems to be more pervasive in the United States than in Europe, a new government study states.
According to an Associated Press news report, more U.S. drivers reported talking on their cell phones while driving rather than their counterparts in seven European nations. This survey, which was done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that 69 percent of U.S. drivers said they talked on the cell phone within the previous 30 days. In the United Kingdom, 21 percent said they talk on cell phones while driving. That number was 59 percent in Portugal.
A larger share of American drivers also reported reading or sending text or email messages while driving. Only Portugal's drivers matched those numbers at 51 percent. Spain had the smallest percentage of drivers who said they texted or emailed - 15 percent. The study looked at drivers between ages 18 and 64 in the U.S., Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom in 2011.
Why the Numbers are Higher in the U.S.
Experts surmise that this difference in distracted driving statistics could be attributed to the fact that Europeans tend to be better at obeying traffic laws due to more stringent enforcement. Also, experts say that the driving environment in Europe is different. Drivers in Europe are not sitting as American drivers do at stoplights because European streets have more roundabouts. In addition, more Europeans drive manual-transmission cars, which makes it difficult to use phones or text while driving. Experts also say that there is no evidence that texting or cell phone bans have made an impact in terms of changing driver behavior in the United States.
Need for a Behavioral Change
Distracted driving causes thousands of fatalities and even more injuries in the United States. When you talk on a handheld cell phone or text while driving, your hands are off the wheel and your eyes and attention are off the roadway. This is extremely dangerous and destructive behavior. It is time for us to wake up as a society and resolve to stay away from cell phones while driving. These recent studies show that distracted driving has little to do with age. Adults are as guilty as teens when it comes to talking on the cell phone, checking email or texting while driving. Grown-ups need to set an example and serve as role models for young people. Distracted driving is simply not worth it.
In a related article earlier on we discussed the increase in distracted teen driver fatalities and the causes. We will continue to provide updates on the topic of distracted driving from cell phone use.