Two-thirds of Americans who use cell phones while driving believe it is safer to talk on a hands-free cell phone than on a hand-held device according to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. However, scientific research shows that is simply not the case.

As the number of cell phone subscribers and proportion of drivers using cell phones continues to increase, studies that have analyzed the cell phone records of crash-involved drivers have reported that using a cell phone while driving makes you four times as likely to be involved in a crash.

"Too many Americans are driving with the false sense of security that hands-free devices are somehow safer, which could be a deadly mistake," said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. "Evidence shows that using a hands-free phone while driving impairs your reaction time to critical events and increases your crash risk about the same as if you were using a hand-held phone. Drivers need to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving and pay full attention while they are behind the wheel."

Two recent AAA Foundation surveys of the motoring public have found:

  • Over half of U.S. drivers admit to using a cell phone while driving.
  • In one survey, 53 percent of drivers reported having used a cell phone while driving at least occasionally in the month before they were interviewed; in the other survey, 61 percent said the same.
  • In both surveys, one in six even admitted that they do this regularly.
  • Of those who admitted using their cell phone while driving, 60 percent used a hand-held device and 34 percent used a hands-free phone.
  • One in seven even admitted text messaging while driving in the past 30 days.
  • Young drivers were overwhelmingly more likely than older drivers to text message, and somewhat more likely to talk on cell phones while driving. For example, nearly half of drivers ages 18 to 24 admitted texting while driving at least occasionally, as compared to less than five percent of those ages 45 and older.

Do as I say, not as I do: Despite survey respondents' belief that drivers using cell phones are a serious traffic safety problem, a large portion admit they at least occasionally talk on a cell phone while driving.

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