Staying Alive: Cell-phone users as dangerous as drunks on the road
A University of Utah study showed that motorists who talked on either handheld or hands-free phones:
- drove slightly slower
- were 9% slower to hit brakes
- showed 24% more variation in following distance
- 19% slower to resume normal speed after braking
- more likely to crash
Watch your back. Three study participants rear-ended the pace car in the study!
Marginal drunks with a 0.08 blood-alcohol level:
- drove more slowly yet more aggressively than either normal drivers or cell-phone users
- followed more closely
- twice as likely to brake 4 seconds before a collision would have occurred
- hit their brakes with 23% more force
- accident rates did not differ from normal drivers
The FAA provided $25K for the study and the Utah Highway Patrol provided devices for blood-alcohol measurement.
About 8% of drivers are talking on cell-phones which is much higher than the drunk driver rate. That means you are more likely to be injured by a cell-phone user than a drunk.
“We found that people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit of 0.08 percent, which is the minimum level that defines illegal drunken driving in most U.S. states,” says study co-author Frank Drews, an assistant professor of psychology. “If legislators really want to address driver distraction, then they should consider outlawing cell phone use while driving.”
A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver
David L. Strayer, Frank A. Drews, and Dennis J. Crouch
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Summer 2006