Mobile // Mobile Devices
News
1/2/2014
11:26 AM
50%
50%

Texting Vs. Talking While Driving: Debate Continues

Texting or dialing while driving is much riskier than just talking on your cellphone, according to a new study.

Drivers who take their eyes off the road to send a text message or dial a phone number significantly raise their chances of causing a crash, according to a new study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The study, which compiled real-world data, delivered some results that differ from those of earlier studies, especially with respect to talking and driving.

Virginia Tech tracked 42 brand-new drivers aged 16 or 17 alongside 109 adults with varying experience behind the wheel. It installed video cameras, GPS systems, lane trackers, and other sensors to gauge speed and acceleration in the cars used by the test subjects.

New drivers present the greatest risk. Virginia Tech reports a sevenfold increase in the chance of a crash or near-miss when 16- or 17-year-old drivers reached for their phone or dialed a number. Sending and receiving text messages boosted the risk of a crash or near-miss fourfold among teens. Phones weren't the only items in the car that provided a distraction. Roadside objects and food also distracted young drivers. Older drivers were also more apt to cause an accident if dialing a phone number.

[What innovations would you like to see in your next smartphone? Read What Smartphone Makers Need To Do In 2014.]

The study also looked at what happens when drivers talk on the phone when behind the wheel, though there is a glaring weakness in the study: it didn't account for the differences between speaking directly into a cellphone and using a hands-free device. That said, it found that simply talking on the phone was not as dangerous as earlier studies suggest. The results have caused some to question the legitimacy of the testing.

University of Utah scientist David Strayer, who has performed his own research on the dangers of cellphone use behind the wheel, told the Associated Press the idea that talking on a phone while driving poses no risk is "completely at odds with what we found." Strayer also pointed out weaknesses with how the study gauged distractions. For example, the video cameras may show drivers' wandering eyes, but they don't account for cognitive distraction. "You don't swerve so much when you're talking on a cellphone; you just might run through a red light," Strayer pointed out.

It's worth noting, however, that in order to hold a phone conversation when driving, a driver must first either dial a number or locate and reach for the phone -- activities that divert a driver's attention from the road. "We all agree that things like taking your eyes off the road are dangerous," said Strayer -- no matter the reason.

The study was paid for by the National Institutes of Health and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the results published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

Plenty of states have bans against talking and/or texting when behind the wheel. So far, 12 have entirely banned the use of cellphones while driving, and 41 have banned text messaging.

Businesses with mobile employees must enact and enforce their own policies regarding phone use behind the wheel. The liability risks are too great.

There's no single migration path to the next generation of enterprise communications and collaboration systems and services, and Enterprise Connect delivers what you need to evaluate all the options. Register today and learn about the full range of platforms, services and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. Register with code MPIWK and save $200 on the entire event and Tuesday-Thursday conference passes or for a Free Expo pass. It happens in Orlando, Fla., March 17-19.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/6/2014 | 6:14:29 PM
It's all in the mind
Agreed on policies. However, it seems like companies keep looking for workarounds that will let people talk on the phone safely while driving. The problem is, the human brain was not built to multitask. So until we get driverless cars, or at least cars that can assist with stopping at red lights, there's no shortcut.
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Nov. 10, 2014
Just 30% of respondents to our new survey say their companies are very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and analyzing it to make decisions, down from 42% in 2013. What gives?
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 16, 2014.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.