Here is some of the latest research on distracted driving, with the focus on cell phone use and text messaging.
Impact of Hand-Held and Hands-Free Cell Phone Use on Driving Performance
G. Fitch, S. Soccolich, F. Guo, etc., Virginia Tech Transportation Institute for U.S. Department of Transportation. “Naturalistic driving study” backed by cell phone records. April 2013.
Quote: “Talking on a cell phone, of any type, was not associated with an increased safety-critical event risk. … Visual-manual subtasks (such as dialing) performed on a handheld cell phone were associated with an increased (crash) risk … and significantly increased the percentage of time drivers took their eyes off the forward roadway. … About half of the hands-free cell phone interactions involved visual-manual subtask.”
Texting Bans and Fatal Accidents on Roadways: Do They Work?
R. Abouk, S. Adams, University of Wisconsin. Analysis using fatality data. April 2013.
Quote: “Bans appear moderately successful at reducing single-vehicle, single-occupant accidents if bans are universally applied and enforced as a primary offense. Bans enforced as secondary offenses, however, have at best no effect on accidents. This is suggestive of drivers reacting to the announcement of the legislation only to return to old habits.”
Teens and Technology 2013
Mary Madden, Amanda Lenhart, etc. Pew Internet Project. Phone survey of 802 teens and parents. March 2013.
Quote: “Smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive. … Among teen smartphone owners, half are ‘cell-mostly’ Internet users.”
Mobile Device Use While Driving: U.S. and 7 European Countries
Rebecca Naumann, Ann Dellinger. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. European and U.S. surveys (2011). March 2013.
Quote: “More than two-thirds of U.S. adult drivers aged reported they had talked on their cell phone while driving at least once in the past 30 days. (In European countries), percentages ranged from 20 percent to 60 percent.”
Is Your Baby Safe on the Road?
American Baby and Safe Kids Worldwide. Survey of 2,396 female drivers with a child under age 2. January 2013.
Quote: “78% of (surveyed) moms talk on the phone while driving with their kids. … 26% text or check email. … Nearly 10% of new moms have been in a crash while driving with their baby — nearly three times higher than the rate among the general population.”
Observational Study of Cell Phone and Texting Use Among California Drivers 2012
Ewald & Wasserman for Safe Transportation Research and Education Center UC Berkeley. 5,664 vehicle observations from 129 sites. November 2012.
Quote: “The percentage of distracted driving by electronic devices observed increased to 6.2% in 2012 from 4.2% in 2011. … The age group of 16-24-year-olds had a significantly higher rate of distracted driving (11.4 percent) compared with older age groups.”
Teen Driver Distraction Study
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and Toyota Collaborative Safety Research Center. National phone survey of of 2,610 teen drivers and 2,934 parents. November 2012.
Quote: “Parents who engage in distracting behaviors more frequently have teens who engage in distracting behaviors. … Teens read or send text messages once a trip 26 times more often than their parents think they do.”
Effects of Electronic Billboards on Driver Distraction
Tania Dukic, Christer Ahlstrom, etc. Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute. (Published in the Traffic Injury Prevention journal.) Study of 41 volunteer drivers. October 2012.
Quote: “Drivers had a significantly longer dwell time, a greater number of fixations and longer maximum fixation duration when driving past an electronic billboard compared to other signs on the same road stretches. Whether the electronic billboards … constitute a traffic safety hazard cannot be answered conclusively based on the present data.”
Distracted driving Among Newly Licensed Teens
A. Goodwin, R. Foss, S. Harrell, N. O’Brien, UNC Highway Safety Research Center/AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Video recorders in family vehicles. March 2012.
Quote: “Electronic device use and other distracted driving behaviors were strongly associated with (teens’) looking away from the roadway. … Females were twice as likely as males to be using an electronic device.”
Young Drivers Report the Highest-Level Phone Involvement in Crash or Near Crash Incidences
J. Tison, N. Chaudhary, L. Cosgrove, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. National phone survey on distracted driving attitudes and behaviors. December 2011.
Quote: “Only about 1 out of 5 young drivers think that texting makes no difference to their driving performance. … 68 percent of young drivers 18 to 20 are willing to answer incoming phone calls on some, most, or all driving trips.”
Impact of Variations in Short-Term Memory Demands on Drivers’ Visual Attention and Driving Performance
B. Reimer, B. Mehler, Y. Wang, J.F. Coughlin, J.F. MIT field study. February 2012.
Quote: “Drivers’ awareness of vehicle surroundings is incrementally impacted by increases in cognitive demand (such as thinking about unrelated problems).” (article)
Two Hands Better Than One
S. Jamson, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds (U.K.). Driving simulator tests of one-handed drivers. Funded by Esure. April 2012.
Quote: “(Driver) reaction times increased by 44 per cent when eating behind the wheel (22 percent while drinking). … Participants made the most corrections to their steering when talking on a mobile-device.”
High School Students Improve Motor Vehicle-related Health Behaviors
Centers for Disease Control: 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. 15,000 high school students surveyed in 43 states. 2011.
Quote: “The use of technology among youth has resulted in new risks; specifically, 1 in 3 high school students had texted or e-mailed while driving … during the past 30 days.”
Surveillance to Inform Distracted Driving Policy: A Survey of College Students
Training, Research and Education for Driving Safety unit, UC San Diego. Self-selected online survey of college students (18-25) in San Diego County. Late 2011.
Quote: “Distracted driving is a highly prevalent behavior in college students, who have higher confidence in their own driving skills and ability to multitask than they have in their colleagues. … The higher the witnessing of distracted driving in others, the more likely the student was to engage in distracted driving.”
Cognitive Distraction While Multitasking in the Automobile
D. Strayer, J. Watson, F. Drews. University of Utah Applied Cognition Lab. Driving simulator study. February 2011.
Quote: “Cell phone use (by a driver) significantly increases the risk of a motor-vehicle accident. … Passenger conversations do not. … Cell phone use induces a form of inattention blindness. … Impairments can be as profound as (driving) while at the legal limit of alcohol.”
Americans and Text Messaging
A. Smith. Pew Research Center. National phone survey of adults. September 2011.
“Cell owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day. … Overall, the survey found that both text messaging and phone calling on cell phones have leveled off for the adult population as a whole. … (When asked how they prefer to be contacted on their cell phones), heavy text users were much more likely to prefer texting to talking.”
- Read more about distracted driving safety research
Note: Inclusion on this list does not indicate HandsFreeInfo endorsement of any distracted driving study’s conclusions or methodology. Commercial sponsorships may or may not affect research results. Some special interests-backed studies deliberately excluded from this list. Surveys conducted online are not statistically valid.