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Phone-related distracted driving appears to be far more prevalent in the U.S. than in seven European countries, according to new research.
The research, the result of two surveys published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), showed that American drivers are atop the rankings—and not in a good way. Drivers aged 18 to 64 years old in the U.S. led European motorists in both cell phone use and texting behind the wheel, although the U.S. tied Portugal for the latter.
Those surveyed in Europe were from Portugal, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany and the U.K.
According to the survey of American motorists between 18 and 64 years old, 69 percent of them reported talking on a cell phone behind the wheel at least once in the past month.
Thirty-one percent said they had sent a text or email while driving at least once in the past month, the survey found, slightly above the rates found in other research.
The country with the lowest rate of talking on a phone while driving was the UK, with 20.5 percent. Spain had the lowest proportion that reported texting from behind the wheel, at 15.1 percent.
Portugal had the highest rates in Europe for both talking on the phone and texting while driving, coming in at 59.4 percent and 31.3 percent, respectively.
According to onlineautoinsurance.com's report comparing the U.S. to Europe, the U.S. has no nationwide bans on texting or cell phone use while driving, but instead enforces different prohibitions state to state, in addition to local ordinances. Currently, only 10 states bar talking on a hand-held device and 39 bar texting while driving.
When will we wake up? Would American roads be safer if distracted driving legislation was imposed on the federal level?
There is a ban throughout the United Kingdom on using hand-held devices while driving. According to the survey published in the MMWR, only 21 percent of U.K. drivers reported using their cell phone while driving, the lowest of any nation participating in the polling.
A mobile device ban is also active in Germany, which fell behind only the U.K. in drivers reporting that they had never used their cell phone while behind the wheel.
The report suggested that strategies applied successfully to other traffic-related public safety issues, like drunk driving and lack of seat belt use, could be replicated for distracted driving.
The danger of distracted driving is compounded by rhetoric and legislative indifference. Isn't it time all cell phones and electronic device usage is banned while driving?