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Most Drivers With Cell Phones Use Them While Driving Even Though They Know It Is Unsafe; More Than One In Five Text While Driving

July 20, 2011

NEW YORK, July 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Three out of five (60%) drivers with cell phones use them while driving even though almost all adults (91%) know it is unsafe to do so. This is particularly common among younger drivers with cell phones. In addition more than one in five (22%) drivers with cell phones send or read text messages while driving. However, the percentage of drivers with cell phones who use them while driving has fallen over the last two years, from 72% in 2009 to 60% now. And, the numbers who text while driving has fallen a little from 27% to 22%.

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Several studies have shown that drivers who use cell phones while driving are much more likely to be involved with accidents, and it is believed that texting is even more dangerous. Recent research has shown that both hand held and hands-free cell phones are almost equally dangerous because they are equally likely to distract drivers. However, more than three quarters (77%) of the public believe that hands-free phones are safer.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,163 adults surveyed online between June 13 and 20, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Other interesting findings of this survey include:

  • There are big generational differences. The younger age groups, Echo Boomers, aged 18-34 (72%) and Gen Xers, aged 35-46 (69%) are more likely to use cell phones while driving than Baby Boomers, aged 47-65 (59%), and much more likely than drivers over 65 (32%) to do so;
  • The Lake Wobegon effect (“where all the children are above average”) is alive and well. Most (57%) drivers rate themselves as better than average drivers. Only 1% rate themselves as worse than average. Men (66%) are much more likely than women (48%) to think that they are better than average drivers;
  • Texting while driving is also much more common among younger drivers. Fully 49% of drivers with cell phones under 35 send or read text messages while driving compared to only 24% of Gen X, 11% of Baby Boomers and less than 1% of people over 65;
  • Most (60%) drivers who use cell phones while driving use hand-held phones. This number has declined from 72% in 2006 and 66% in 2009;
  • The large majority who know that it is dangerous to use a cell phone while driving has increased from 82% in 2006 to 91% now; and,
  • The percentage of the public who live in states that require (or, which they believe, require) the use of hands-free phones has increased from 14% in 2006 to 38% now.

So What?

The implications of these findings point to several important conclusions:

Most drivers with cell phones are behaving in ways (talking on cell phones and/or reading or sending texts) that greatly increase the likelihood that they will be involved in accidents, and injure themselves and others. Furthermore, many of them believe, probably wrongly, that if they use hands-free phones they are safer. The problem may be made worse by the fact that most drivers think they are better than average drivers and, perhaps, that their driving skills can keep them out of trouble.

These findings strongly suggest the need for laws to ban all cell phone use and texting while driving, including the use of hands-free phones, except perhaps in emergencies.

                                  TABLE 1A
    FREQUENCY OF TALKING ON CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING - TREND SINCE 2006
       "How often do you talk on a cell phone while you are driving?"
    Base: Adults who drive and have a cell phone
                                          2006    May    June
                                                  2009    2011
                                           %       %       %
    Talk on Cell Phone While Driving
     (NET)                                  73      72      60
    All the time                             6      10       5
    Sometimes                               67      62      55
    Never                                   27      28      40
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

                                        TABLE 1B
          FREQUENCY OF TALKING ON CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING- BY AGE AND ABILITY
             "How often do you talk on a cell phone while you are driving?"
    Base: Adults who drive and have a cell phone
                         Total        Generation         Type of driver
                            Echo Gen. X Baby Matures Better Average  Worse
                           Boomers (35-46) Boomers (66+)  than        than
                              (18-34)       (47-65)     average     average
                           %      %    %        %    %     %    %      %
    Talk on Cell Phone
     While Driving (NET)    60      72   69       59   32    62   59     38
    All the time             5      11    6        3    *     7    3      4
    Sometimes               55      61   64       56   31    55   56     34
    Never                   40      28   31       41   68    38   41     62
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding; * signifies
    less than .05%

                                         TABLE 2
           FREQUENCY OF SENDING OR RECEIVING TEXT MESSAGES ON CELL PHONE WHILE
                                         DRIVING
            How often do you send or read texts on a cell phone while you are
                                        driving?"
    Base: Those who drive and have a cell phone
                            June
               May 2009     2011                 Generation
                                     Echo     Gen. X     Baby    Matures
                                   Boomers    (35-46)  Boomers     (66+)
                                   (18-34)             (47-65)
                   %         %         %         %         %        %
    All the
     time             5         2         7         1         *     -
    Sometimes        22        20        42        23        11        *
    Never            74        78        51        76        89      100


                      Type of driver
               Better   Average   Worse
                 than              than
               average           average
                  %        %        %
    All the
     time            2        2        4
    Sometimes       20       19       20
    Never           78       79       76
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding; * signifies
    less than .05%

                                   TABLE 3
       HOLD CELL PHONE OR USE HANDS-FREE DEVICE WHILE DRIVING - TREND
    "When you use the cell phone while you are driving, do you typically
       hold the phone in your hand or do you use a hands-free device?"
    Base: Adults who ever talk on a cell phone while driving
                       2006     May            June
                                 2009                 2011
                        %        %              %
    Hold phone           72        66                   60
    Hands-free
     device              28        34                   40
    ----------          ---       ---                  ---
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

                                   TABLE 4
    FREQUENCY OF BEING PASSENGER WHILE DRIVER IS TALKING ON CELL PHONE -
                                    TREND
    "How often are you a passenger in a car while the driver is talking
                              on a cell phone?"
    Base: All adults
                                    2006    May           June
                                             2009               2011
                                     %       %             %
    Often                              5        8                  5
    Sometimes                         55       59                 49
    Never                             39       31                 43
    Not Sure                           1        2                  2
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

                                  TABLE 5
      LIVE IN CITY OR STATE THAT HAS LAW REQUIRING USE OF HANDS-FREE
                              DEVICE - TREND
    "Do you currently live in a city or state that has a law requiring
    that you use a hands-free device while talking on a cell phone in
                             your car or not?"
    Base: All adults
                                           2006    May    June
                                                   2009    2011
                                            %       %       %
    My state requires a hands-free
     device                                  14      32      38
    if I am on my cell phone and
     driving
    My state does not currently have
     such a law                              61      49      39
    Not sure                                 25      19      23
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

                                   TABLE 6
              DANGEROUS TO USE CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING - TREND
    "How dangerous is it for a driver to use a cell phone while driving?"
    Base: All adults
                                          2006    May    June
                                                  ---    ----
                                                  2009    2011
                                                  ----    ----
                                           %       %       %
                                                  ---     ---
    Dangerous (NET)                         82      88      91
                                                   ---     ---
      Very dangerous                        31      42      46
                                                   ---     ---
      Dangerous                             25      22      26
                                                   ---     ---
      Somewhat Dangerous                    26      24      19
                                                   ---     ---
    Only Slightly or Not Dangerous
     (NET)                                  18      12       9
                                                   ---     ---
      Slightly dangerous                    16      11       8
                                                   ---     ---
      Not dangerous at all                   2       1       1
      --------------------                 ---     ---     ---
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

                                   TABLE 7
                      HANDS-FREE PHONE IS SAFER - TREND
    "Is using a hands-free cell phone safer or more dangerous than using
           a hand-held cell phone?  A hands-free cell phone is..."
    Base: All adults
                                 2006    May    June
                                         2009    2011
                                  %       %       %
    Safer (NET)                    70      71      77
      Much safer                   13      19      14
      Somewhat safer               57      52      63
    Just as safe                   22      20      17
    More dangerous (NET)            8       9       6
      Somewhat more dangerous       6       7       5
      Much more dangerous           2       2       2
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

                                     TABLE 8
                         RATING YOUR OWN DRIVING ABILITY
      "On another subject, would you rate yourself as a better than average
                     driver, or a worse than average driver?"
    Base: All adults who drive a vehicle
                        Total      Gender                Generation
                               Male   Female   Echo  Gen. X     Baby  Matures
                                             Boomers (35-46)  Boomers   (66+)
                                             (18-34)          (47-65)
                           %     %       %      %       %        %       %
    Better than average     57    66      48      51      51       67      50
    Average                 42    33      51      48      48       32      48
    Worse than average       1     1       1       1       1        1       2
    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 13 to 20, 2011 among 2,163 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

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Q905, 910, 913, 915, 920, 925, 930, 935, 940

The Harris Poll® #84, July 20, 2011

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive
212-539-9600
press@harrisinteractive.net

SOURCE Harris Interactive


Source: newswire



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