On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board proposed a nationwide ban on driver use of personal electronic devices while operating a motor vehicle. The NTSB called on the states and the District of Columbia to implement the ban.

One in four (27%) American adults say they have texted while driving, and 61% say they have talked on their cell phones while behind the wheel. When it comes to teens, 26% said they have texted and 43% said they have talked on their cell phones while driving.

In addition, 49% of adults say they have been passengers in a car when the driver was sending or reading text messages. Overall, 44% of adults say they have been passengers of drivers who used a cell phone in a way that put themselves or others in danger.

Texting and talking on the phone is not all people do behind the wheel. A Pew Research Center survey from 2006 found that as Americans spend more time in their cars they engage in a range of activities while driving.

Nearly seven-in-ten drivers (68%) say they have sung out loud while driving. Roughly four-in-ten (41%) say they have eaten a meal while driving and nearly as many (38%) report having shouted or cursed at other drivers in the past year. Other behaviors are less common — 16% of drivers have done personal grooming while driving, 6% have read while driving and another 6% admit to having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year.

These findings on texting and talking on the phone while driving come from a nationwide phone survey of 2,252 American adults conducted between April 29 and May 30, 2010. The figures for teens come from a 2009 survey. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.