Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cell Phones and Driving

A review of recent studies about the use of cell phones and driving ...

"In the United States over 224 million people used cell phones as of October 2006, compared with approximately 4.3 million in 1990, according to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association.

Increased reliance on cell phones has led to a rise in the number of people who use the devices while driving. There are two dangers associated with driving and cell-phone use. First, drivers must take their eyes off the road while dialing. Second, people can become so absorbed in their conversations that their ability to concentrate on the act of driving is severely impaired, jeopardizing the safety of vehicle occupants and pedestrians. Since the first law was passed in New York in 2001 banning hand-held cell-phone use while driving, there has been debate as to the exact nature and degree of hazard. The latest research shows that while using a cell phone when driving may not be the most dangerous distraction, because it is so prevalent it is by far the most common cause of this type of crash and near crash.

Studies: Studies about cell-phone use while driving have focused on several different aspects of the problem. Some have looked at its prevalence as the leading cause of driver distraction. Others have looked at the different risks associated with hand-held and hands-free devices. Still others have focused on the seriousness of injuries in crashes involving cell-phone users and the demographics of drivers who use cell phones. Below is a summary of some recent research on the issue.

Text messaging, or “texting” by teens, a driving distraction related to cell phone use, was the subject of an August 2006 survey by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. The survey showed that teens considered sending text messages via cell phones to be their biggest distraction. Of the teens surveyed, 37 percent said that text messaging was extremely or very distracting, while 20 percent said that they were distracted by their emotional states and 19 percent said that having friends in the car was distracting."    (Continued via Village Soup)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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