For nearly two decades it has been a widely-held belief that talking on
cellphones leads to more accidents. A
new study suggests it might not be as dangerous as believed, but don’t let
this fool you.
It’s important to be aware that the new research from Carnegie Mellon
University and the London School of Economics and Political Science did
not include drivers that were texting or surfing the web.
Recently released results from a new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
(VTTI) naturalistic driving study continue to show that distracted driving is
a tangible threat. The study, entitled
The Impact of Hand-Held and Hands-Free Cell Phone Use on Driving Performance
and Safety Critical Event Risk, shows that engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a
phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones
and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash
by three times. The data were collected by VTTI and Westat. The study,
which was conducted under a separate contract from the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found:
- Text messaging, browsing and dialing resulted in the longest duration of
drivers taking their eyes off the road.
- Text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by two times
and resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average
of 23 seconds total.
- Activities performed when completing a phone call (reaching for a phone,
looking up a contact and dialing the number) increased crash risk by three times.
- There is no direct increased crash risk from the specific act of talking
on a cell phone. However, visual-manual tasks (locating the phone, looking
at the phone and touching the phone) are always involved when using a
hand-held cell phone. This makes the overall use of a hand-held cell phone
riskier when driving.
- Even portable hands-free and vehicle-integrated hands-free cell phone use
involved visual-manual tasks at least half of the time, which is associated
with a greater crash risk.
To learn more about the VTTI study on cell phone use, view their research