U.S. drivers the most distracted

man on cell phone distractedU.S. drivers are far more likely than Europeans to drive while distracted by wireless communications devices such as cell phones, a trans-Atlantic study found.

Almost 70 percent of U.S. drivers said they’d used a cell phone in the past 30 days, compared with 21 percent in the United Kingdom. The closest nation to the U.S. in cell phone & driving numbers was Portugal, with 60 percent of drivers admitting to the practice.

Meanwhile, a new “teens and technology” survey finds that teens who own smartphones (such as the iPhone) access the Internet that way about half of the time, suggesting that their driving while computing is increasingly frequent.

In Europe, use of handheld cell phones is widely prohibited, while U.S. bans vary from state to state.

The U.S. and Portugal again led the way in text messaging, with 31 percent of drivers in both countries admitting to texting while behind the wheel in the past month. In Spain, that figure was lowest in Europe (15 percent).

The data came from public research outfits HealthStyles and EuroPNStyles, which conducted the surveys of drivers between the ages of 18–64 in the spring and fall of 2011.

European countries surveyed were Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain as well as the United Kingdom.

Not surprisingly, age was a good predictor of distracted driving behaviors in the U.S. The CDC researchers wrote:

A significantly larger percentage of both men and women aged 25–44 years reported talking on a cell phone while driving compared with those aged 55–64 years. … A significantly larger percentage of (drivers) aged 18–34 years reported that they had read or sent text or e-mail messages while driving compared with those aged 45–64 years.

“The estimates of talking on a cell phone while driving in the United States are consistent with previous research,” they said.

A “large variation” in estimates of cell phone use was found in European nations, a finding that puzzled the CDC researchers because “saturation” of the mobile device market was common to all nations.

The Pew report on U.S. teens and technology found that 47 percent of young cell phone owners possess smartphones.

“Smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive,” the Pew surveyors reported in “Teens and Technology 2013.”

One in four teens say they mostly use cell phones to access the Internet, compared with half of the young smartphone users. Older girls are especially likely to be cell-mostly internet users,” Pew found, and of those who own smartphones about 55 percent went online primarily with their phones.

Pew said 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and 47% of them own smartphones. About a quarter of the teens own tablet computers, about the same as adults.

About three in four (74%) teens ages 12-17 are “mobile internet users” who say they access the internet on cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices at least occasionally. By comparison, 55% of adults are mobile internet users

Pew said that gap in mobile Internet use was largely explained by adults over the age of 65, “many of whom are not using the internet in any capacity, let alone on a mobile device.”

Pew surveyed 802 U.S. teens ages 12-17 and their parents in the summer of 2012.

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia restrict at least some teens or other novice drivers from using electronic devices while operating a vehicle.

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