February 24, 2014
What About Phone Use Is Dangerous While Driving?

Reaching for a phone, texting, and dialing are dangerous while driving but talking on the phone isn't.

However, the researchers found that distracted driving substantially increased the risks for new drivers. Compared to when they were not involved in secondary tasks, novice teen drivers were:

  • eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing
  • seven to eight times more likely when reaching for a phone or other object,
  • almost four times more likely when texting, and
  • three times more likely when eating.

Talking on a cell phone did not increase risk among the adult or teenage drivers. However, because talking on a cell phone is preceded by reaching for the phone and answering or dialing--which increase risk greatly-- the study authors concluded that their results provide support for licensing programs that restrict electronic device use, particularly among novice drivers. They also stressed the need for education about the danger of distracted driving.

Imagine phones integrated into the car electronics with a microphone in the steering wheel to hear your voice. If the phone could recognize your voice telling it which number to dial you would never have to reach for it. Then you could use the phone while driving with little impact on safety.

What would work even better: a self-driving car that could take over when you go reach for the phone or that would just always be in control. We will get there. Might take another 10 years though before it is affordable.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2014 February 24 09:50 PM 

David Friedman said at February 26, 2014 4:19 PM:

In my experience, the most dangerous think I do when driving is to pay attention to something else--the conversation with the person sitting next to me or the argument going on inside my head with the radio talk show host I'm listening to. From that standpoint, your integrated phone would still be dangerous for me as a driver.

Brett Bellmore said at February 26, 2014 5:01 PM:

We let people drive when they're a bit tired, or slightly ill, or haven't been working out, or maybe are getting on in years a bit. We don't require everybody who gets behind the wheel to be a highly trained professional, in tip top shape. So, why should we require that they refrain from activities while driving whose impact is on the same scale as the normal variations in driving efficiency we routinely accept?

Chet David said at February 27, 2014 3:04 AM:

Actually not just Phone, anything you'll do is not good while driving. Eating food, using cellphone, etc. All of these are as dangerous as drunk driving. It's hard to do two things at the same time. I've seen experiments on this, and usually the driver fails. So my advice is just stick and focus on driving since you'll never know what's on the road.

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