Cell Phones and Driving: Research Update

Cell Phones and Driving: Research Update December, 2008 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety


A growing body of research suggests that using a mobile telephone while driving increases a driver's risk of being involved in a crash. Studies that have analyzed the cell phone records of crash-involved drivers have reported that using a cell phone while driving is associated with roughly a quadrupling of crash risk. Studies using driving simulators have also found that cell phone use significantly impairs several aspects of driving performance, principally reaction time. Studies comparing the risks associated with using hand-held and hands-free cell phones while driving have found them indistinguishable-both increase risk. Meanwhile, available data shows that the number of cell phone subscribers, and the proportion of drivers using cell phones, is increasing.

This research update presents new data from the AAA Foundation's Traffic Safety Culture Index, a nationally-representative telephone survey of the American public, on drivers' cell phone use and their attitudes toward distracted driving, as well as data on driver cell phone use from a recent omnibus survey conducted for the AAA Foundation.

Results show that over half of U.S. drivers report having used a cell phone while driving in the past 30 days, and one in seven even admits to text messaging while driving. Young drivers were found to be overwhelmingly more likely than older drivers to text message, and somewhat more likely to talk on cell phones while driving; however, the proportion of drivers aged 35 to 44 who report talking on cell phones while driving is not significantly lower than the proportion of drivers aged 18 to 24 who report doing so. Higher levels of education were also found to be associated with higher levels of cell phone use and text messaging while driving.

A substantial proportion of the American public believes that drivers using cell phones are a serious traffic safety problem and that it is unacceptable to use a cell phone while driving. Respondents who express negative attitudes toward cell phone use while driving were found to be somewhat less likely to use cell phones while driving; however, a substantial proportion of respondents who express negative attitudes toward using a cell phone while driving still admit doing so at least occasionally. About two- thirds of drivers who use cell phones while driving believe that it is safer to talk on a hands-free cell phone than on a hand-held cell phone; however, the overwhelming majority of available evidence suggests that it is not.


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Reply to
Monty Solomon
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Especially when you see people using their hands in a conversation with someone not in their sight.

Reply to
David Clayton


The telephone, by cultural tradition, is a very attention-engaging way to communicate. People expect each other's full attention. In that way it is very different from most kinds of two-way radio (e.g., police radio, aircraft radio), with conversation in very short snips, both parties fully acknowledging that at least one of them is driving.

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I think training makes the difference: emergency responders and ham operators are trained to divide their time effectively and to take care of the car first and the communication second.

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Reply to

I agree law enforcement are trained to use radios and drive, even at high speeds, but now many department use VOX so hand are free. I have seen police use Cell phone while driving and I wonder sometimes if they are aware of what is going on around them, I thought about asking, but you never know what they would do, having been a Reserve Sheriff years ago, sometime you bit the public.

Has anyone noticed [someone else], or are you, using a cell phone while shopping in super markets? I have been hit several times by persons who feel the need to talk while shopping: most of the time it was just a bump, but once I was down getting a product off a lower shelf and was knocked down and hit my head! I was knocked out for a few seconds: according to others around the woman never even knew she hit me. She was stopped, and got really mad because she was bothered, [but] I wanted her arrested for hit and run.

Reply to
Steven Lichter

I wouldn't see amatur radio operators are trained so much as they are aware of the potential for problems. Amateur radio operators generally are just chatting and aren't concerned about pleasing the person on the other end to the highest degree.

I think the problem is much more in the brain listening while we are talking to the other persons nuances. The mild hmm that is a mild form of disagreement or whatever. The "but" as the person disagrees with you.

I recall an incident with my sister while driving on a reasonably quiet stretch of four lane highway in Saskatchewan. Quiet meaning one vehicle per mile. She was on the cell phone chatting with a long time friend. Suddenly she reacted to the flag man on the road with a rude word and said "Where did that person come from?"

When she got off the phone 20 minutes later I told her that she had missed two sets of two signs on both sides of the road warning of construction and flag man ahead. She stated "Ohhhh, maybe what they say about cell phones and driving is true."

However she still took a call just before we hit Regina and chatted all way through the traffic to the other side. A city in which she has driven maybe three times before in her life. Grrrrr.

While I'm in favour of a complete cell phone ban while driving I also realize that this is quite impractical for day to day use. However this will be a tool for the police to use for additional charges when the driver does something real stupid. The police can then check the cell phone records to see if a call was in progress or a text message sent or received in the last few minutes.


Reply to
Tony Toews [MVP]

Not a pilot myself, but isn't their mantra

"Aviate, Navigate, Communicate"

(in that order of priority).

Reply to

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