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Sequester Impact: Driving and Talking

Earlier this week, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) made headlines as the man “who destroyed Obama’s sequester scare story.”  The gist of the story was that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could not back up the Obama administration’s claims children would lose access to vaccinations due to the sequester (watch the take down here). Today, to prove their relevance, the CDC released a blockbuster new study: More US than European drivers are on the phone.

The Associated Press summarizes:

In a survey, nearly 69 percent of U.S. drivers said they had talked on a cellphone while driving within the previous 30 days. The share of European drivers who said they chatted on their phones ranged from 21 percent in the United Kingdom to 59 percent in Portugal. 

A larger share of U.S. drivers also reported reading or sending text or email messages while driving than drivers in six of the European countries. Only Portugal’s drivers matched those in the U.S. for this distracting habit – 31 percent in both countries. Spain had the smallest share of drivers who said they texted or emailed, 15 percent. 

The study was based on online surveys of drivers ages 18 to 64 in the U.S., Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom in 2011.

The CDC explains further:

Mobile device use while driving is a prevalent behavior in the United States and several countries in Europe. This study revealed a large range in the prevalence of these behaviors, particularly for estimates of talking on a cell phone while driving. It is unlikely that differences in the prevalence of mobile device use while driving between countries are attributable to differing proportions of persons owning mobile devices in these countries, given that mobile markets in developed countries are similarly saturated. It is also unlikely that differences in cell phone use laws fully explain prevalence differences. While U.S. states differ in their cell phone use laws, nearly all European countries have hand-held bans in place, yet there is still a large variation in European estimates. Further research is needed to explore other factors that might help explain these differences, such as differences in strategies (e.g., enforcement and public education campaigns) applied to try to reduce these behaviors and cultural differences regarding the acceptability of these behaviors. (emphasis added)

No word if the sequester will hit the follow up research.

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