Use of Electronic Devices While Driving
A 2009 survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals an increase in the use of electronic devices while driving and some regional differences in this practice.
The percentage of young drivers manipulating a hand-held electronic device while driving has decreased from 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2009 nationwide survey, which provides the only nationwide probability-based observed data on driver electronic device use in the United States. The survey shows that the hand-held cell phone use rate in 2009 translates into 672,000 vehicles being driven by someone using a hand-held cell phone at any given moment during daylight hours. It also translates into an estimated 9 percent of all vehicles that had drivers who were using some type of phone (hand-held or hands-free).
Nationwide, those drivers observed visibly manipulating hand-held electronic devices dropped significantly from 1.0 percent to 0.6 percent.
Some 1.1 percent of drivers 16 to 24 years old were observed visibly manipulating hand-held electronic devices, down from 1.7 percent the previous year
More drivers in Southern States were observed manipulating hand-held electronic devices (1.0%) than in the other regions of the country (from 0.2% in the Midwest to 0.5% in the West).
The use of hand-held devices decreased the most in the West, from 2.1 percent in 2008 to 0.5 percent in 2009.
The percentage of drivers visibly manipulating hand-held devices while driving was higher among females (0.7%) than among males (0.5%).
The results above are from the National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), which provides the only nationwide probability-based observed data on driver electronic device use in the United States. The NOPUS is conducted annually by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The survey observes usage as it actually occurs at randomly selected roadway sites. The survey data is collected by trained observers at probabilistically sampled intersections controlled by stop signs or stoplights, where vehicle occupants are observed from the roadside. Data is collected between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Only stopped vehicles are observed to allow time to collect a variety of information required by the survey, including subjective assessments of occupants' age and race. Observers collect data on the driver, right-front passenger, and up to two passengers in the second row of seats. Observers do not interview occupants, so that the NOPUS can capture the untainted behavior of occupants. The 2009 NOPUS data was collected between June 1 and June 22, 2009, while the 2008 data was collected between June 2 and June 22, 2008.