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NHTSA Reports Cellular
Phone Use by Motorists Is on the Rise
More motorists than ever are using cellular
phones while they drive, according to the latest survey by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
In 2004, at any given daylight moment, an estimated 8 percent of
all motorists in the U.S., or about 1.2 million drivers, were
using cellular phones (both hand-held and hands-free) while
operating their vehicles. This compares to 6 percent in 2002 and
4 percent in 2000.
The survey also estimated that 5 percent of motorists in 2004, or
about 800,000 drivers, were using hand-held cellular phones at
any given daylight time, compared to 4 percent of drivers in 2002
and 3 percent in 2000.
The latest cellular phone use observations, conducted as part of
the agencys annual National Occupant Protection Use Survey
(NOPUS), compared 2004 wireless phone use estimates with data
collected in 2002 and 2000. The observational survey was
conducted between June 7 and July 11, 2004, at 1,200
scientifically selected road sites across the country. In some
instances, the roadside observational data were supplemented by
NHTSA telephone surveys.
Among the latest findings:
Hand-held cellular phone use increased among drivers
between the ages of 16 and 24, from 5 percent in 2002 to 8
percent in 2004.
For all age groups, hand-held cellular phone use increased
among female drivers, from 4 percent in 2002 to 6 percent in 2004.
Men using hand-held cellular phones remained steady at 4 percent
from 2002 to 2004.
Motorists are more likely to use phones when driving alone.
In 2004, 6 percent of drivers traveling alone were holding
cellular phones, compared to 2 percent of drivers who had at
least one passenger. However, drivers who had at least one child
passenger (7 years old or younger) were as likely to use a hand-held
cellular phone as were drivers with no children on board (both at
5 percent of observed drivers in 2004).