Despite knowing that driving and talking on a cell phone at the same time is dangerous and that it is safer to use a hands-free device to hold a cell phone, a large majority of drivers with cell phones still talk on the phone and drive simultaneously. That is especially true with younger adults.
Even in states that have laws requiring the use of a hands-free device, many adults are not using the hands-free device.
Those are some of the results of a Harris Poll of 2,085 U.S. adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive between May 9 and 16, 2006.
Other results include:
*About three-quarters (73 percent) of adults who drive and have a cell phone (78 percent of all adults drive and have a cell phone) say that they talk on their cell phone while driving. Two-thirds (67 percent) say that they sometimes talk on their cell and drive, while only 6 percent admit to doing this all the time. Just more than a quarter of adults (27 percent) say that they never talk on their cell while driving.
*This pattern holds pretty much across all regions of the country, with higher numbers in the Midwest (76 percent) and South (77 percent). Only in those states that have a law that requires use of a hands-free device (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington, D.C.) are the percentages lower (61 percent).
*Interestingly, younger adults are more likely than their older counterparts to drive while talking on a cell phone. Almost nine in 10 (86 percent) Echo Boomers (those ages 18 to 29) say that they talk on their cell phone while driving, as compared to about half (48 percent) of Matures (those ages 61 and older).
*For those who admit to talking on their cell phone while driving, a majority (72 percent) say that they hold the cell phone. Only 28 percent say that they use a hands-free device that cradles the cell phone. Even those in states that have a hands-free law, just 55 percent, say that they use the hands-free device, while the remaining 45 percent say that they hold their phone.
*Similarly, six in 10 adults (60 percent) say that have been a passenger in a car while the driver is talking on a cell phone, with five percent saying that this happens often, and another 55 percent who says it happens sometimes. For those who are in states with a hands-free law the percentages are smaller, however, almost half (48 percent) say that they are often or sometimes a passenger in a car while the driver is talking on a cell phone.
*Among the entire adult population, about six in 10 (61 percent) think that their state does not currently have a hands-free law, with 14 percent saying that their state does have such a law. There is some unfamiliarity with this, considering a quarter (25 percent) say that they are not sure whether their state has a law.
Over half (56 percent) of adults say it is at least dangerous, with 31 percent saying it is very dangerous for someone to use a cell phone while driving. Another 26 percent say that using a cell phone while driving is somewhat dangerous, and only 18 percent say either slightly dangerous or not dangerous at all.
*Those who are most likely to say this is a dangerous activity are those who live in states with a hands free law (64 percent), Matures (69 percent), and those who never talk on their cell phone while driving (85 percent).
*Conversely, smaller percentages of adults who admit to talking on their cell while driving (40 percent) and Echo Boomers (49 percent) say that this is dangerous.
Although many acknowledge that driving and talking on a cell phone at the same time is dangerous, many still hold their phone — despite the feeling that using a hands-free cell phone is safer, with 13 percent say it is much safer, and 57 percent saying somewhat safer. Another 22 percent say that using a hands-free cell phone is just as safe as using a hand-held phone. Few (8 percent) say that a hands-free cell phone is more dangerous.
While a law exists in some states that require the use of a hands-free device, more adults appreciate the danger. Fewer adults talk on the cell-phone while driving, and those that do use the hands-free device more often. However, there is still room for improvement, which may come about with improved public awareness campaigns (and perhaps laws) as to the risks of using a cell phone while driving.
The Harris Poll #46, June 6, 2006, “Despite Understanding Risks Many U.S. Adults Still Use Cell Phones While Driving.” Copyright 2006, Harris Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.
States with laws requiring
a hands-free device