Observational Study of Cell Phone and Texting Use Among California Drivers 2012 and Comparison to 2011 Data


This methodological report describes survey research and data collection methods employed for the second Observational Survey of Cell Phone and Texting Use among California Drivers study conducted in 2012. This study was conducted by Ewald & Wasserman Research Consultants (E&W) on behalf of the California Office of Traffic Safety and the Safe Transportation Research and Education Center at University of California at Berkeley. The survey’s goal was to obtain a statewide statistically representative observational sample of California’s cell phone use behaviors, focusing on mobile device use and compare it to 2011 survey data. Vehicle drivers were observed at controlled intersections, such as traffic lights and stop signs, using a protocol similar to the National Occupancy Protection Use Study methodology published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The sample frame included a total of 5,664 vehicle observations from 129 sites. The total percentage of distracted driving by electronic devices (holding a phone to the ear, manipulating a hand-held electronic device while driving, or talking on a hand-held device) observed increased to 6.2% in 2012 from 4.2% in 2011. California’s baseline level of cell phone use and driving will be a critical metric over the years as traffic safety stakeholders mobilize to conduct high visibility enforcement campaigns, explore newpolicies, expand educational programs, and engineer countermeasures to increase safety on the roads. 

Publication date: 
January 1, 2013
Publication type: 
Technical Report