Feature Stories - 2013

Abt SRBI Conducts Distracted Driver Survey

    Release Date: 3/10/2013

    Distracted driving was responsible for 3,300 deaths and 387,000 injuries in 2011 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that just reaching for a phone distracts a driver for 4.6 seconds--the equivalent of the length of a football field if the driver is traveling 55 miles per hour. 

    To better understand the attitudes and self-reported behaviors related to cell phones, texting, and distracted driving, NHTSA commissioned Abt SRBI to conduct the National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors in 2010 and again in 2012.
    The 2012 NSDDAB survey assessed:

    • The extent to which drivers are distracted by various activities;
    • The extent and frequency of using cell phones while driving; 
    • The extent and frequency of texting while driving;
    • Knowledge of and attitudes toward measures to deter distracted driving;
    • Perceptions about the danger of distracted driving;
    • Exposure to the consequences of distracted driving;
    • Willingness to intervene when someone is distracted while driving;
    • Changes and trends in distracted driving behavior and attitudes since 2010.
    Abt SRBI conducted 6,016 interviews by landline and cell phones among a national representative sample of motor vehicle drivers 16 or older. Interviews were conducted from February 27 to June 11, 2012. Paul Schroeder, Abt SRBI Vice President, Transportation Practice, directed the survey. The report was released in April 2013.
    Major findings since 2010 include:
    • Fewer respondents report answering or making cell phone calls while driving. People who always or almost always answer a call declined from 33% in 2010 to 28% in 2012.
    • Making calls while driving is down from 10% in 2010 to 6% in 2012.
    • The percentage of respondents who said they send text messages while driving increased from 12% in 2010 to 14% in 2012.
    • More respondents in 2012 reported they had decreased cell phone use while driving over the past 30 days than did respondents in 2010. In 2012, 19% reported that their fre­quency had decreased, while in 2010 about 12% reported a decrease. The most common reason for a decrease was safety awareness.
    • Support for laws banning handheld phone use while driv­ing increased from 68% in 2010 to 74% in 2012. Support for laws banning texting remains high, at about 93% in 2012.
    Full survey report