In a recent survey of wireless phone subscribers, 42 percent responded that most Americans rarely or never use their cell phone in a courteous manner. Yet a whopping 95 percent claimed that they personally are a courteous cell phone user at least most of the time.
The non-scientific "person-on-the-street" survey was conducted during the past week among 200 wireless phone subscribers, half in New York City and half in Los Angeles. AT&T Wireless commissioned the survey to see if attitudes had changed since it released similar findings one year ago. July of each year is "Wireless Etiquette Month."
"It seems we may still judge our own cell phone use as being more courteous than those around us consider it to be," said Mark Siegel, vice president of public relations, AT&T Wireless. "Perhaps courtesy is in the eye - or rather the ear - of the beholder."
"But the good news is that most wireless subscribers do believe others are courteous users at least most of the time," Siegel continued. "And wireless subscribers are becoming familiar with phone features that can promote courteous use."
In fact, an overwhelming 94 percent of survey respondents agreed that in some situations it is courteous to set a cell phone ringer to "silent" or vibrate" -- and 89 percent claimed to have done so.
In addition, 69 percent of survey respondents agreed that in some situations sending a text message would be more courteous to those around them than making a voice call. Nearly half the respondents (46 percent) reported that they use text messaging.
Moreover, while 42 percent of respondents apparently believe that their fellow cell phone users need a lesson in wireless etiquette, 58 percent did agree that most Americans are courteous cell phone users at least most of the time.
So what can be done to raise America's cell phone courtesy quotient? AT&T Wireless recommends that cell phone users take a fresh assessment of their own behavior and consider the following tips:
* Avoid "cell yell."
You typically don't need to shout to be heard.
* Remember that your turn-offs may be pleasing to others. If you're in a location where a ringing phone may disturb others - such as a restaurant, museum, library, theater, or on public transportation - turn off your phone and let any calls go to voicemail. Or simply set your ringer to "silent" or "vibrate."
* Take it outside. If you need to place a call while you're in one of these locations, step outside before doing so. Some public places, such as movie theaters and trains, may have designated areas where cell phone use is permitted.
* Use your thumbs. In some situations it may be more courteous to those around you if you quietly send a text message rather than place a voice call.
* Ask before you click. As with any other form of photography, don't use a camera phone where taking pictures is prohibited. And ask permission before snapping someone's picture.