Most people already know that it isn’t wise to use a cell phone while driving. However, studies show that many people are continuing to engage in this behavior even though they know it isn’t safe. Studies also show that this behavior leads to decreased driver awareness and an increased incidence of accidents.
Research on Conversation Behind the WheelThe journal Human Factors recently published a meta-analysis that explores the effect of conversations on a driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely and adequately. This analysis looked at the performance of drivers who are using cell phones to talk to other people, as well as those who are talking to other passengers in the vehicle. The study involved nearly 4,400 drivers in 106 different experimental situations. The drivers’ performance during conversation was compared with a baseline measure of driving performance without conversation. Some of the behaviors evaluated include driver eye movements, positions of vehicles within a lane, distance between vehicles, speed and perception of hazards on the road. The study found that both cell phone use and conversations with passengers in the vehicle impact drivers’ abilities. Some of the most important insights from the study with regard to cell phone usage in the car are listed below.
- Using a cell phone to talk while driving leads to slower reaction times, slower identification of hazards and less scanning of the environment.
- Drivers who are using cell phones spend less time looking in rearview mirrors and to the left and right.
- Drivers talking on cell phones do not drive slower or increase distance between their vehicles and others’.
- Drivers’ awareness of the environment was diminished even when they were using a hands-free system.
- Talking on a cell phone with or without hands-free technology increased the incidence of all types of collisions.
- Dialing a cell phone was almost as dangerous as texting.