Mobiles in cars a risk even when not being used
We all know that using a mobile phone behind the wheel can cause a crash. But now there is research which suggests that merely anticipating a call can significantly increase the risk of an accident.
This is seen as an especially relevant piece of research as so many drivers continue to use the phone behind the wheel as much as if they were at a desk or table.
Researchers at the University of Washington studied 384 students on a Cell Phone Overuse Scale (CPOS).
This looks at and monitors frequent anticipation of calls/ messages and a strong reaction to the mobile going off.
The participants also undertook an anonymous online survey in which they answered questions about their driving history and previous crashes, if any.
The researchers found a direct link between overuse of mobiles and crashes. For every one point increase on the 'Over Use' scale there was an equivalent rise in the number of previous car crashes involving the individual student.
Much of the focus appears to have been on younger drivers with Dr Beth E Ebel, of the university, saying young drivers continue to use mobiles despite the known risks.
The study highlights the level of distraction caused not just by the phone but by the anticipation of a call its mere presence generates. It suggests that even thinking about a call or message you might be about to get could provide an additional source of distraction.