CDC: Americans More Likely To Text And Drive Than Europeans


When it comes to cell phone use, Europeans have better driving habits than Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection’s March 15 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, recent surveys show talking and texting while driving is much more widespread in the US than in the seven European nations studied. Shame on us.

In making its comparison, the CDC analyzed data from 2011 EuroPNStyles and HealthStyles surveys. In the surveys, participants aged 18 to 64 were asked to self-report their cell phone usage while driving in the prior 30 days, categorized as never, once, rarely, fairly often or regularly. An embarrassing 68 percent of US drivers admitted to talking on the phone at least once in the past 30 days. Embarrassing because the number compares to just 20 percent of UK drivers. Other European drivers also reported less talking while driving, with the highest percentage belonging to Portugal with 59 percent. So are US drivers really that apathetic when it comes to road safety, or are they simply more truthful when they fill out surveys?

More disturbing than the number who report talking while driving, however, is the percentage who admit to texting while. You have to admit, regardless of what we may be told, some people are capable of having a conversation and driving. It’s not really that different than talking to a person in the passenger seat or those soccer moms who are refereeing their litter of fighting kids in the back of the mini-van. But texting while driving? That’s just scary. I admit, I do it (Sorry Mom and Dad), and I know I shouldn’t. But I’m not alone. Thirty-one percent of US drivers who took the HealthStyles survey admitted to sending or reading texts while driving at least once in the 30 days before completing the survey. That compares to just 15 percent of European drivers. We suck.

So what can make us put down our phones while we’re behind the wheel? Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws restricting at least teens and new drivers form using cell phones while driving. Ten states ban hand-held mobile phone use for all drivers, yet we still do it, even knowing that 24 percent of the 3.5 million serious auto injuries that occur in the United States each year involve cell phones. I would say we need stricter laws, but that would mean I’d have to put my phone down, and I’m just not sure I’m ready to do that.