Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2011-04-28

Women are more likely than men to use a cell phone while driving, and women driving SUVs are more likely to be on the phone than are females driving cars.

So concluded four Samford University nursing students who shared their undergraduate research findings at a Samford Showcase Wednesday, April 27.

They were among 23 nursing, exercise science and sports medicine, and family studies majors whose poster presentations were on view for discussion. Topics ran the gamut from osteoarthritis and bone density in older adults, to how a company’s identification with a winning sports team results in increased sales to fans, even if its products are not sports-related.

When the three-day 2011 Samford Showcase concludes on Friday, about 140 students in 11 different majors will have revealed results of research projects, either in scholarly poster sessions or in oral presentations to peers and faculty members.

Before beginning research, students submitted abstracts to their faculty sponsors, who represent many academic disciplines. “Faculty members across the campus work directly with students to direct their research, discuss their findings and prepare their presentations,” explains Samford associate provost Dr. Nancy Biggio, who coordinated the Showcase.

Whether the research is presented as a poster or orally may depend on the method most appropriate for a certain field of study. “In this way, Showcase helps to prepare students for graduate study and or future research opportunities,” said Biggio.

The research by nursing seniors Kate Freeman, Alison Johnson, Sarah Shivers and Alyssa Vanderslice was done last fall while observing traffic for one hour at the site where Lakeshore Drive intersects with Samford’s west gate entrance and University Park Drive, which leads to Homewood High School.

Of the 87 vehicles counted, 41 percent of the drivers were observed using cell phones, with 35 percent talking, and 6 percent texting. Broken down by gender and type of vehicle, statistics showed 68 percent of the women driving SUVs were on the phone, while only 20 percent of female car drivers were on the phone.

 The time of day, noon to 1 p.m., was chosen to exclude times when students from Samford and the high school would most likely use the intersection, ensuring a truer sampling of typical adult drivers. The students’ findings fall in line with previous studies, including data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. They note, however, that their more current research points to an even higher percentage of female SUV phone talkers than earlier studies report.

The four Samford researchers, who were enrolled in Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing professor Dr. Janet Alexander’s nursing research class, chose their topic with care.

 “We wanted to do something outside the box of medically related topics, but wanted it to apply to the prevention aspect of nursing,” said Johnston, adding that their preliminary study showed that an estimated 90 percent of Americans own a cell phone, and many use one while driving.

When they first decided on the topic, they considered focusing on the prevalence of texting while driving. “But then we learned that talking also results in fatalities,” said Shivers.

The research group members agreed that they hope the study hits home with all drivers, whether students, parents who carpool children, or anyone who is tempted to be distracted from attention to the road.

“It’s a habit that hard to break,” acknowledged Freeman, “but we hope the study will make people think twice about driving and using a cell phone at the same time.”




Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.