Drivers far more likely to talk on phone than text while driving

January 31, 2019

A new study from the IIHS makes it clear Americans aren't giving up their cell phones behind the wheel, but there's some good news. The IIHS published the results of a study last week and found that drivers are more likely to talk on the phone than text.

The study surveyed 800 drivers across the U.S. and asked about their phone habits while driving. A whopping 80 percent of the respondents said they had talked on the phone while driving in the past 30 days. Of them, 30 percent said they talk and drive on a daily basis.

READ THIS: Study: Texting while driving most common during evening rush hour

However, there's a glimmer of safety in the stats. Most drivers reported they use a handsfree device while talking on the phone, whether through Bluetooth, the phone's speaker, or a headset with a microphone.

Compared to the percentage of respondents who said they talked on the phone in the last 30 days, only 38 percent of drivers admitted to reading emails or texts behind the wheel. A third of them said they had also sent emails or composed text messages as well.

The rest of the study was more focused on behavior while talking on the phone, whether via a handheld device or handsfree. It found 64 percent of middle-age drivers (representing a wide swath from 30 to 59 years old) said they would chat on the phone while driving on a regular basis. The 24 to 29 year-old age group was second most likely at 44 percent. Serving as bookends, 18 to 24 year-olds were third at 37 percent and elderly drivers aged 60 or older were least likely at 36 percent.

ALSO SEE: Insurers don't penalize texting while driving as much as other moving violations

Perhaps contrary to pop culture, it's men who are more often to talk on the phone while driving. The study found men are 22 percent more likely to make a phone call while driving compared to women.

States have worked to implement bans on talking on a cell phone and texting while driving, which has led to the rise in handsfree systems. At the time of the study, 15 states and the District of Columbia had enacted bans on hand-held cell phones while driving. Texting is banned for drivers in 47 states and D.C.

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