Study: Drivers who talk on cell phones are lousy drivers, with or without phones
Posted by David Brooks | Thursday, August 23, 2012
Lots of places have banned the use of cell phones while driving, because it distracts the driver. But they don't seem to have had much effect on accident rates.
A study by some MIT researchers hints as to why: The sort of people who talk on cell phones in their car are crummy drivers, even without the distraction. Here's a story in Science magazine.
No cell phones were allowed during these trips. Instead, before they got behind the wheel, the study participants filled in answers about how often they used a cell phone while driving, how they felt about speeding and passing other cars, and how many times in the last year they had been warned or cited for speeding, running traffic lights and stop signs, and other infractions. The team grouped the participants into "frequent users" (those who talked on the phone while driving a few times a week or more) and "rare users" (those who talked while driving a few times a month or less).
Compared with people who rarely talked as they steered, frequent cell phone users drove faster, changed lanes more frequently, spent more time in the left lane, and engaged in more hard braking maneuvers and rapid accelerations, according to the SUV's onboard equipment. Frequent cell phone users, for example, zoomed along about 4.4 kilometers per hour faster on average and changed lanes twice as often, compared with rare users.
Human beings - sometimes I wonder how the species has survived.