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US has more distracted driving than EU

WASHINGTON — Distracted driving is more widespread in the United States than in Europe, according to a study released Thursday that surveyed drivers about their cellphone and texting habits.

Nearly 69 percent of US drivers said they had talked on a cellphone while driving within the previous 30 days, the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. 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.

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More US drivers also reported reading or sending text or e-mail messages while driving. Only Portugal’s drivers matched those in the United States for this distracting habit — 31 percent in both countries. Spain had the smallest share of drivers who said they texted or e-mailed, at 15 percent.

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

Researchers offered no explanation for why the use of distracting mobile devices is more common in the United States. Mobile device markets in the United States and Europe are similarly saturated, the study said.

In the United States, Massachusetts, 38 other states, and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving. Ten states and the District of Columbia have banned hand-held cellphone use for all drivers; Massachusetts and some other states have additional limitations on cellphone use by young or novice drivers.

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