Title

Cell Phone Use by Drivers in Ellensburg

Presenter Information

Reed Skyllingstad
Sean Nelson

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom C/D

Start Date

16-5-2013

End Date

16-5-2013

Abstract

Texting-while-driving has become a serious threat to traffic safety, but little research has been done on how this phenomenon varies with respect to spatial, temporal, and demographic factors. In October 2012, the students in Geography 306: Transportation Geography and Planning gathered information about the use of cell phones by drivers at six carefully selected locations in Ellensburg at four times per day over a one week period. During each 20-minute observation period, the students recorded whether each driver passing the selected locations could be observed talking on a cell phone, texting on a cell phone, or doing neither. The students also recorded the gender and approximate age (young, middle-aged, and older) of each driver as well as the weather conditions at the time of the observation. In total, data on 7,022 drivers were compiled. The results show that cell phone use by drivers (counting both texters and talkers) is more common in Ellensburg than in the United States more generally, that female drivers are more likely to use a cell phone while driving than male drivers, and that young people are more like to exhibit these behaviors than older ones. We further found that cell phone use was more common near the CWU campus especially on Water Street and least likely along Capitol Avenue near several Ellensburg public schools. We conclude by briefly assessing the public policy implications of our findings and offer several ideas for refining and extending our methodology.

Poster Number

29

Faculty Mentor(s)

John Bowen

Additional Mentoring Department

Geography

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May 16th, 2:15 PM May 16th, 4:44 PM

Cell Phone Use by Drivers in Ellensburg

SURC Ballroom C/D

Texting-while-driving has become a serious threat to traffic safety, but little research has been done on how this phenomenon varies with respect to spatial, temporal, and demographic factors. In October 2012, the students in Geography 306: Transportation Geography and Planning gathered information about the use of cell phones by drivers at six carefully selected locations in Ellensburg at four times per day over a one week period. During each 20-minute observation period, the students recorded whether each driver passing the selected locations could be observed talking on a cell phone, texting on a cell phone, or doing neither. The students also recorded the gender and approximate age (young, middle-aged, and older) of each driver as well as the weather conditions at the time of the observation. In total, data on 7,022 drivers were compiled. The results show that cell phone use by drivers (counting both texters and talkers) is more common in Ellensburg than in the United States more generally, that female drivers are more likely to use a cell phone while driving than male drivers, and that young people are more like to exhibit these behaviors than older ones. We further found that cell phone use was more common near the CWU campus especially on Water Street and least likely along Capitol Avenue near several Ellensburg public schools. We conclude by briefly assessing the public policy implications of our findings and offer several ideas for refining and extending our methodology.