|Objectives: The aim of this study was to quantify the level of hand-held phone use when driving in South Australia. The study also sought to investigate any driver, site and vehicle characteristics associated with hand-held phone use to inform countermeasure development and publicity campaigns.
Method: An on-road observational survey of hand-held phone use was undertaken as part of a larger restraint use survey. The survey was conducted at 61 sites in metropolitan Adelaide and rural regions within South Australia on weekdays and a weekend.
Results: A total of 64 (0.56%) of the 11,524 drivers observed during the survey were using hand-held phones. Hand-held phone usage rates ranged from 0.75% in metropolitan Adelaide to 0.34% in the rural region of The Riverland. Of all the driver, site and vehicle characteristics examined, the only statistically significant difference in hand-held phone usage was for the number of vehicle occupants. The odds of a driver using a hand-held phone while travelling alone was over four times higher than for a driver travelling with passengers.
Conclusions: Despite laws banning their use, some individuals continue to use hand-held phones while driving, particularly when driving alone. Given the rate of increase in phone technology, it is important to conduct regular roadside surveys of phone use among drivers to monitor trends in usage over time. While in-vehicle technologies offer new strategies for decreasing phone usage while driving, further research is required to determine their effectiveness and encourage public acceptance of proven technologies.