Some 69 percent of adult drivers in the United States admit to talking on their cell phones while behind the wheel, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As Sara Johnson of Atlantic Cities points out, this is much, much higher than the rates in many other developed countries:

Why the disparity? One theory: All those European countries have laws against driving while talking on a hand-held phone. In the U.S., by contrast, fewer than half the states forbid adult drivers from driving while talking. See here for a legal overview.

So maybe the real question is why British drivers are so much more likely to follow the law than Dutch drivers or Portuguese drivers. (Note that this is all self-reported data, so it's entirely possible that the British just don't like admitting to anything...)

This might seem like a weird bit of trivia, but the World Health Organization says (pdf) it's all quite serious. Each year, WHO reports, some 1.3 million people die and 50 million people are injured in road accidents worldwide. And "distracted driving" is becoming an increasingly common cause. One study estimated that 18 percent of all fatal crashes in the United States in 2008 involved some form of distracted driving.