There is a long running controversy about the safety of using mobile phones and text messaging while driving.
Simulations show that using a mobile phone has negative effects on driver behaviour – reaction times increases, for instance. However, this is not corroborated by multi-channel electronic surveillance in real driving settings. Phone use, it turns out, is accompanied by compensating mechanisms in real life scenarios. These include slowing down while speaking, and leaving a larger gap between vehicles. Texting while driving does result in considerable increase in risk of poor driving patterns in real life scenarios – not an unexpected finding! Does this mean that banning text use prevents crashes? It turns out that crash rates do not always decline and actually increase, albeit ‘non-significantly’, probably because of increase in surreptitious use of the phone causing even greater distraction from the road ahead.
— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director
- Saifuzzaman M, Haque M, Zheng Z, Washington S. Impact of mobile phone use on car-following behaviour of young drivers. Accident Anal Prevent. 2015; 82: 10-9.
- Caird JK, Johnston KA, Willness CR, Asbridge M, Steel P. A meta-analysis of the effects of texting on driving. Accident Anal Prevent. 2014; 71: 311-8.
- Highway Loss Data Institute. Texting bans don’t reduce crashes; effects are slight crash increases. 2010. [Online].