Cell Phones and Driving: Review of Research

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Arlington, Virginia 22201, USA.
Traffic Injury Prevention (Impact Factor: 1.41). 07/2006; 7(2):89-106. DOI: 10.1080/15389580600651103
Source: PubMed


The research literature on drivers' use of cell phones was reviewed to identify trends in drivers' phone use and to determine the state of knowledge about the safety consequences of such use.
Approximately 125 studies were reviewed with regard to the research questions, type and rigor of the methods, and findings. Reviewed studies included surveys of drivers, experiments, naturalistic studies (continuous recording of everyday driving by drivers in instrumented vehicles), studies of crash risk, and evaluations of laws limiting drivers' phone use.
Observational surveys indicate drivers commonly use cell phones and that such use is increasing. Drivers report they usually use hand-held phones. Experimental studies have found that simulated or instrumented driving tasks, or driving while being observed, are compromised by tasks intended to replicate phone conversations, whether using hand-held or hands-free phones, and may be further compromised by the physical distraction of handling phones. Effects of phone use on driving performance when drivers are in their own vehicles are unknown. With representative samples of adequate size, naturalistic studies in the future may provide the means to document the patterns and circumstances of drivers' phone use and their effects on real-world driving. Currently, the best studies of crash risk used cell phone company billing records to verify phone use by crash-involved drivers. Two such studies found a fourfold increase in the risk of a property-damage-only crash and the risk of an injury crash associated with phone use; increased risk was similar for males and females, younger and older drivers, and hands-free and hand-held phones. A number of jurisdictions in the United States and around the world have made it illegal for drivers to use hand-held phones. Studies of these laws show only limited compliance and unclear effects on safety.
Even if total compliance with bans on drivers' hand-held cell phone use can be achieved, crash risk will remain to the extent that drivers continue to use or switch to hands-free phones. Although the enactment of laws limiting drivers' use of all phones is consistent with research findings, it is unclear how such laws could be enforced. At least in the short term, it appears that drivers' phone use will continue to increase, despite the growing evidence of the risk it creates. More effective countermeasures are needed but are not known at this time.

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    • "In the last decade, mobile phone use has led to rising concerns about distraction during driving. Although phone use while driving has been widely addressed by researchers (McCartt et al., 2006) and legislative actions in several countries, a comprehensive examination of its effect on driving performance in real traffic has not been performed. Agreement on the most promising countermeasures to address potential distraction posed by phones and legislation is even farther away. "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Technologies able to augment human communication, such as smartphones, are increasingly present during all daily activities. Their use while driving, in particular, is of great potential concern, because of the high risk that distraction poses during this activity. Current countermeasures to distraction from phone use are considerably different across countries and not always widely accepted/adopted by the drivers. Methods: This study utilized naturalistic driving data collected from 108 drivers in the Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems (IVBSS) program in 2009 and 2010 to assess the extent to which using a phone changes lateral or longitudinal control of a vehicle. The IVBSS study included drivers from three age groups: 20–30 (younger), 40–50 (middle-aged), and 60–70 (older). Results: Results from this study show that younger drivers are more likely to use a phone while driving than older and middle-aged drivers. Furthermore, younger drivers exhibited smaller safety margins while using a phone. Nevertheless, younger drivers did not experience more severe later-al/longitudinal threats than older and middle-aged drivers, probably because of faster reaction times. While manipulating the phone (i.e., dialing, texting), drivers exhibited larger lateral safety margins and experienced less severe lateral threats than while conversing on the phone. Finally, longitudinal threats were more critical soon after phone interaction, suggesting that drivers terminate phone interactions when driving becomes more demanding. Conclusions: These findings suggest that drivers are aware of the potential negative effect of phone use on their safety. This awareness guides their decision to engage/disengage in phone use and to increase safety margins (self-regulation). This compensatory behavior may be a natural countermeasure to distraction that is hard to measure in controlled studies. Practical Applications: Intelligent systems able to amplify this natural compensatory behavior may become a widely accepted/adopted countermeasure to the potential distraction from phone operation while driving.
    Journal of Safety Research 11/2015; 55. DOI:10.1016/j.jsr.2015.09.005 · 1.29 Impact Factor
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    • "Studies have covered various topics, including red light jumping, incident perception, and young and novice driver behavior (Auberlet et al., 2012; Bella, 2008; Feldman et al., 2011; van Driel, Hoedemaeker, & van Arem, 2007; Yan, Radwan, & Guo, 2007; Yan, Radwan, Guo, & Richards, 2009; Yang, Overton, Han, Yan, & Richards, 2013). The driving simulator methodology has been prevalent in distracted driving studies (McCartt et al., 2006), especially in studies of mobile phone use while driving, which have examined the effects of conversation (Beede & Kass, 2006; Consiglio et al., 2003; Törnros & Bolling, 2005), dialing, and text messaging (Drews et al., 2009; Horrey & Wickens, 2006; Hosking et al., 2009; Rudin-Brown, Young, Patten, Lenné, & Ceci, 2013; Young et al., 2014). In the current study, a driving simulation was conducted to model the effects of reading and typing text messages on the driving performance of young drivers. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Reading and typing text messages while driving seriously impairs driving performance and are prohibited activities in many jurisdictions. Hong Kong is a bilingual society and many people write in both Chinese and English. As the input methods for text messaging in Chinese and English are considerably different, this study used a driving simulator approach to compare the effects of reading and typing Chinese and English text messages on driving performance. Method The driving performances of 26 participants were monitored under the following conditions: (1) no distraction, (2) reading and typing Chinese text messages, and (3) reading and typing English text messages. The following measures of driving performance were collected under all of the conditions: reaction time (RT), driving lane undulation (DLU), driving speed fluctuation (DSF), and car-following distance (CFD) between test and leading cars. Results RT, DLU, and DSF were significantly impaired by reading and typing both Chinese and English text messages. Moreover, typing text messages distracted drivers more than reading them. Although the Chinese text messaging input system is more complicated than the English system, the use of Chinese did not cause a significantly different degree of distraction. Conclusion Both reading and typing text messages while driving should be prohibited regardless of whether Chinese or English is used.
    Transportation Research Part F Traffic Psychology and Behaviour 05/2015; 31:87-98. DOI:10.1016/j.trf.2015.03.010 · 1.99 Impact Factor
    • "Since the dawn of the cellphone, there has been a debate concerning the dangers of phone use while driving. Studies have attempted to characterize the risks of phone use (Caird, Willness, Steel, & Scialfa, 2008; Collet, Guillot, & Petit, 2010; Dingus et al., 2006; Horrey & Wickens, 2006; McCartt, Hellinga, & Bratiman, 2006; McKnight & McKnight, 1993; Redelmeier & Tibshirani, 1997; Young & Schreiner, 2009), with studies using different methodologies and different measures producing widely varying estimates of risk and uncertainties about whether any elevated risk is explained by visual, manual, or cognitive attentional demands of cellphone use. "
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    ABSTRACT: There is limited research on trade-offs in demand between manual and voice interfaces of embedded and portable technologies. Mehler et al. (2014a) identified differences in driving performance, visual engagement, and workload between two contrasting embedded vehicle system designs (Chevrolet MyLink and Volvo Sensus). The current study extends this work by comparing these embedded systems with a smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S4). None of the voice interfaces eliminated visual demand. Relative to placing calls manually, both embedded voice interfaces resulted in less eyes-off-road time than the smartphone. Errors were most frequent when calling contacts using the smartphone. The smartphone and MyLink allowed addresses to be entered using compound voice commands resulting in shorter eyes-off-road time compared with the menu-based Sensus but with many more errors. Driving performance and physiological measures indicated increased demand when performing secondary tasks relative to “just driving”, but were not significantly different between the smartphone and embedded systems. Practitioner summary: The findings show that embedded system and portable device voice interfaces place fewer visual demands on the driver than manual interfaces, but they also underscore how differences in system designs can significantly affect not only the demands placed on drivers but also the successful completion of tasks.
    Affiliation: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
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