According to a national study released May 8 by the American Automobile Association (AAA), distracted drivers who crash their vehicles are more likely to have been changing a CD, eating a hamburger or quieting a toddler than using their cell phones. The study, which the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center analyzed for the AAA, said cell phones were low on the list of distractions for drivers involved in 5,000 accidents between 1995 and 1999. The findings of the study were the focus of a hearing May 9 by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. The study found that drivers were most often distracted by something outside their vehicle (29.4 percent) followed by adjusting a radio or CD player (11.4 percent). Other specific distractions included talking with other occupants (10.9 percent), adjusting vehicle or climate controls (2.8 percent), eating or drinking (1.7 percent), cell-phone use (1.5 percent) and smoking (0.9 percent). Drivers under 20 were especially likely to be distracted by tuning the radio or changing CDs, while young adults (ages 20-29) seemed to be more distracted by other passengers. Drivers over 65 were more distracted by objects or events happening outside the vehicle. Most of the distracted drivers were male (63 percent), in part because as a group males drive more than females and are more likely to be involved in serious crashes. Researchers used the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Crashworthiness Data System (CDS) for the study. The CDS examines a sample of approximately 5,000 crashes a year in which at least one vehicle was damaged enough to require towing. Federal investigators collect detailed information about each crash, including examination of the vehicle and crash scene and interviews with drivers and witnesses. The UNC center’s study included 32,303 vehicles. Critics of the study say the data may not be dependable, because many drivers will not admit they were talking on a phone at the time of a crash. Another factor is that in the earliest years covered by the study -- 1995 until 1997 or so -- cell phones weren't nearly as widely used as they are today, so the numbers from those years may make cell phones appear safer than they actually are at current rates of usage. Common sense tells us that eating hamburgers, changing CDs and quieting children were all much more common activities for most drivers during the years covered by the study -- so they'd naturally show up as factors in more accidents than would cell phone usage. Cell phones have become the focus in the debate over whether to regulate the use of technological gadgets while driving. Mark Edwards, managing director of traffic safety programs at AAA, said, "Legislation that bans cell phones from cars or requires hands-free right now is premature."