Study: America's texting-and-driving problem isn't getting any better

By NBC News

At any moment on a regular weekday in 2011, about 660,000 people across the U.S. were sitting in the drivers seat and talking on their cell phones.

Twice that number were engaging with their mobile device in some way, checking calendar appointments perhaps, replying to email or planning a route on their maps app.

The new numbers come from the most recent National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) conducted by a wing of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This study also shows that texting-and-driving stats haven't dipped since 2010, and some trends, like young drivers who use cell phones, seem to be on the rise.

In the new study, women were more likely than men to reach for their cell phones while driving. As expected, young adults and teens, more than folks 30 and older, were most likely to be texting or checking email while at the wheel.

To get the new numbers, data collectors were stationed at 1,356 locations around the country, and recorded the behavior of 38,215 drivers. They made notes of drivers talking while holding a phone, texting, perhaps checking email, and also if they were speaking on very visible bluetooth headset or headphones. This data was then statistically extrapolated to estimate how many people across the country, not just in those locations, are probably fiddling with their map apps or calendar appointments when they ought to be looking at the road.

The nasty habit of texting and driving is much worse in the U.S. than several European countries. American drivers admitted to texting while driving far more frequently than drivers in the U.K., France, Spain and others, according to a study published in March this year.

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