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Handsfree Cellphone Use Has Lingering Negative Effects on Driving Performance

  • Author(s): Hill, Linda, MD, MPH
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://doi.org/10.7922/G2Z899PV
Abstract

Distracted driving is a factor in approximately 3,000 crashrelated fatalities in the United States each year. Studies have shown that the risk of a crash is four to six times greater while using a cell phone, with even higher rates for texting. Despite public warnings and laws, smartphone tasks that require devoted attention, such as texting, emailing, or web browsing, remain common while driving. Most states restrict hands-held cell phone use, including talking and texting, but none have addressed handsfree use, which can also be extremely distracting. Additionally, there is growing evidence that the effects associated with phone use linger beyond the initial loss of attention, known as a “hangover” effect, and are associated with hazardous driving behavior. Researchers at the Schools of Medicine and Engineering at UC San Diego recently concluded an experimental study on driving safety in which 97 participants were asked to perform simulated driving tasks while receiving a handsfree call or short text message. Researchers measured each participant’s driving reactions (i.e., change in speed, amount of swerving, and drifting outside one’s lane), whether they responded to visual cues at the edges of the screen (simulating rear view mirrors), and how much of the road ahead drivers focused on after being distracted.

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