Phone use and crashes while driving: A representative survey of drivers in two Australian states

Suzanne P. McEvoy, Mark R. Stevenson, Mark Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore the use and effects of using mobile phones while driving. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: New South Wales and Western Australia, 20 October to 7 November 2003. Participants: 1347 licensed drivers aged 18 to 65 years. Data were weighted to reflect the corresponding driving population in each state. Main outcome measures: Mobile phone use while driving (hand-held, hands-free and text messaging); adverse effects of use. Results: While driving, an estimated 57.3%±1.5% of drivers have ever used a mobile phone and 12.4%±1.0% have written text messages. Men, younger drivers and metropolitan residents were more likely to use a phone while driving and to report a higher frequency of use. Enforcement of hand-held phone restrictions was perceived to be low (69.0%±1.5%) and an estimated 39.4%±2.1% of people who phone while driving use a hand-held phone. Half of all drivers (50.1%±1.6%) did not agree with extending the ban to include hands-free phones. Among drivers aged 18-65 years in NSW and WA, an estimated 45 800±16 466 (0.9%+0.3%) have ever had a crash while using a mobile phone and, in the past year, 146 762±26 856 (3.0%±0.6%) have had to take evasive action to avoid a crash because of their phone use. Conclusions: Phone use while driving is prevalent and can result in adverse consequences, including crashes. Despite legislation, a significant proportion of drivers continue to use hand-held mobile phones while driving. Enhanced enforcement is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-634
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Dec 18 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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