SURVEY SAYS: Cell Phones

May 10, 2001 - Yesterday we tried to gain a bit of insight into readers cell phone usage, particularly during that all-important commute. Respondents were nearly evenly divided in their habits, with slightly more than 46% eschewing the use of mobile phones for anything but emergencies. Of the remaining 54%, roughly 55% did so for personal business, 20% did so for work, and 25% did a bit of both.

For what it may be worth, a national survey found that while more than 50% of respondents use their cell phone while driving to/from work, 78% of them are talking to friends/family, not co-workers. In fact, 31% of those who use their cell phone while driving haven’t made a work-related call in the past 6 months, according to Progressive Insurance.

But among our readers, those of you who think you’re the last person left on the planet without a cell phone –you’re not. As one reader noted (who speaks for several): “Cell phones: Don’t have one, don’t need one, don’t want one.”

There was also, “So far, I have resisted the temptation to own a cell phone. Frankly, there are times I just don’t want to be in touch or be reachable.”

The comments about cell phone etiquette (or, more accurately, the lack there of) were rife. Here’s a sampling:

“It is very irritating to be in a meeting in someone’s office when their phone is constantly ringing or worse they interrupt the meeting to answer it. We are in a culture that believes the person on the phone is more important than the person in front of them.”

“Last month I flew to Boston for a workshop, on the return trip my flight was delayed for two hours. While waiting at the terminal a college student sat down, pulled out her cell phone and proceeded to have a long and very personal conversation within earshot of me and at least a dozen other people”. (next time, act VERY interested.)

“To be honest as a mother of 3, who works full time- I literally do not have uninterrupted time to call any friends/ family unless I am commuting.”

“I’m in Toronto, Canada and our police department this week initiated a “sweep” of motorists using cell phones while driving. If you’re caught, you get a $350 fine and 6 demerit points. I think it’s about time. I even saw one run a red light, swerve to avoid another car and still manage to keep the phone to his ear all the while.” (sounds like a new Olympic sport)

“With construction season upon us, I use the extra down time to contact friends and family that I have not spoken to in a while.” (ah, spring and the sound of jackhammers.)

“Do you really need to call your spouse when you’re in the grocery store to ask what kind of beans to buy?” (you’ve obviously never come home with the wrong can of beans)

But perhaps the best reason NOT to stay connected was “The only thing my cell phone has allowed me to do, is commit to more promises of things to do, that I now have even less time to do.”

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!