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Training, Research and
Education for Driving Safety

Adult Cell Phone Survey

2013 Survey: Distracted Driving Behaviors of San Diego County Adults
Publication in press – Journal of Transport & Health

With support from Allstate Insurance Company, the Adult Cell Phone Survey was conducted in February and March 2013, and focused on the driving habits of San Diego County residents, ages 30 to 64. It used an anonymous, online questionnaire to examine drivers’ attitudes about cell-phone use and to quantify the amount of time that respondents use cell phones to call or text others while on the road. Overall, 715 participants completed the survey: 75 percent female, two thirds married, and the average age was 46-years-old.

Distracted Driving Behaviors:

  • Overall, any phone use while driving occurred in 82 percent of respondents
  • Of the 512 respondents driving an average of one to two hours per day, 30 percent reported use of a cell phone ‘sometimes to frequently’ for talking, texting and other applications
  • Handheld phoning and driving was reported by 56 percent of respondents
  • 66 percent of respondents reported texting while stopped at traffic lights and 30 percent while driving on a freeway in stop-and-go traffic
  • Of the 261 respondents with children younger than 11-years-old in the car, 65 percent use a phone while driving and 36 percent text
  • 31 percent of respondents felt obliged to take a work-related call while driving
  • 74 percent of respondents reported that they would be likely or very likely to use a phone app that auto-responds to text messages while driving

Respondents would be likely to change their behavior based on the following scenarios:

  • 82 percent: if a citation resulted in license suspension of 30 days
  • 65 percent: if a citation increased the cost of automobile insurance by 30 percent
  • 63 percent: if a citation resulted in a fine of $500 for a first offense
  • 47 percent: if a citation resulted in 1 point to their driving record
  • 67 percent: if insurance companies did not cover crashes resulting from distracted driving
  • 68 percent: if repeated violations would require a recording device

This study highlights the prevalence of distracted driving behaviors among middle-aged adults.
The results provide insight into the types of deterrents more likely to have an effect on distracted driving such as increased fines and license suspension.

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