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Prev Med Rep. 2016 Sep 7;4:486-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.09.003. eCollection 2016 Dec.

Texting while driving: A study of 1211 U.S. adults with the Distracted Driving Survey.

Author information

1
Clinical Outcomes Research Unit, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, United States.
2
Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, 243 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114, United States; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.
3
Clinical Outcomes Research Unit, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, United States; Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, 243 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114, United States; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States.

Abstract

Texting and other cell-phone related distracted driving is estimated to account for thousands of motor vehicle collisions each year but studies examining the specific cell phone reading and writing activities of drivers are limited. The objective of this study was to describe the frequency of cell-phone related distracted driving behaviors. A national, representative, anonymous panel of 1211 United States drivers was recruited in 2015 to complete the Distracted Driving Survey (DDS), an 11-item validated questionnaire examining cell phone reading and writing activities and at what speeds they occur. Higher DDS scores reflect more distraction. DDS scores were analyzed by demographic data and self-reported crash rate. Nearly 60% of respondents reported a cell phone reading or writing activity within the prior 30 days, with reading texts (48%), writing texts (33%) and viewing maps (43%) most frequently reported. Only 4.9% of respondents had enrolled in a program aimed at reducing cell phone related distracted driving. DDS scores were significantly correlated to crash rate (p < 0.0001), with every one point increase associated with an additional 7% risk of a crash (p < 0.0001). DDS scores were inversely correlated to age (p < 0.0001). The DDS demonstrated high internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.94). High rates of cell phone-related distraction are reported here in a national sample. Distraction is associated with crash rates and occurs across all age groups, but is highest in younger drivers. The DDS can be used to evaluate the impact of public health programs aimed at reducing cell-phone related distracted driving.

KEYWORDS:

Accidents; Automobile driving; Cell phones; Text messaging; Traffic

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