Though three of four Kentuckians admit to talking on the phone while driving, just as many would support a law banning cell phone use while operating a vehicle, the Kentucky Health Issues Poll has found.
“Although most Kentucky adults use their cell phones while driving, interestingly, they seem to recognize that this isn’t a safe behavior,” said Dr. Susan Zepeda, CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which co-sponsored the poll. “Research has shown that drivers who are talking on a cell phone perform similarly to drivers who are legally drunk.”
The poll found that more than 80 percent of Kentucky adults have a cell phone. Nearly 30 percent said they never use their cell phone when behind the wheel; 25 percent said they almost never do; 30 percent said they occasionally talk on the phone while driving; 10 percent said they talk on the phone almost every time they’re in the car and 6 percent said they make calls every time.
While they do use their cell phones to talk, 8 out of 10 Kentucky adults do not text while driving, which is banned in Kentucky. Just 1 in 7 Kentucky adults said they occasionally or rarely use their cell phone to text or write emails when driving. Another 2 percent said they text every time they drive.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has identified texting as the most alarming road distraction and attributed 5,500 deaths on American roads to distracted driving in 2009. About 200 of those deaths happened on Kentucky roads.
The poll, conducted annually by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati, is jointly funded by the foundation and The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. Its statewide sample of 1,677 results in a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points; regional samples are smaller and have higher error margins, around 5 percentage points. The foundation is the principal funder of Kentucky Health News. Other poll results can be found by clicking here.