A motorist on a cellphone, a common scene on U.S. streets. (Toby Talbot / Associated…)
Far more Americans use a cellphone and text while behind the wheel than their European counterparts, the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionreported.
Nearly a third of U.S. drivers aged 18 to 64 admitted they had read or sent a text message while driving during a 30-day period, compared with 15% in Spain, according to a CDC weekly morbidity and mortality report. Portugal tied the U.S. in texting, at 31%, according to the report.
And more than two-thirds of Americans admitted they gabbed on cellphones while driving, compared with a low of 21% in Britain.
“The cellphone can be a fatal distraction for those who use it while they drive,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. “Driving and dialing or texting don’t mix. If you are driving, pull over to a safe place and stop before you use your cellphone.”
The CDC reviewed self-reported survey results from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Britain and the United States. The surveys were conduced in 2011.
For cellphone use, European rates ranged from 20.5% in Britain to 59.4% in Portugal. For texting, those ranges were from 15.1% in Spain to 31.3% in Portugal.
There were few differences between men and women in the U.S., according to the CDC. Age was another matter: a higher percentage of 25- to 44-year-old men and women reported talking on a cellphone while driving than those ages 55 to 64.
A higher percentage of 18- to 34-year-old men and women reported reading or sending text or email messages while driving than those ages 45 to 64.
The CDC has reported that 3,331 people were killed in 2011 in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared with 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, compared with 416,000 people injured in 2010.
Or, hang up and drive.