Violence and Injury Prevention

Mobile phone use: a growing problem of driver distraction

Bigstockphoto/G. Jones

Distracted driving is a serious and growing threat to road safety. With more and more people owning mobile phones, and the rapid introduction of new “in-vehicle” communication systems, this problem is likely to escalate globally in the coming years. This Report focuses on the use of mobile phones while driving as one example of the broader problem of driver distraction.

It is now evident that if you are using a mobile phone while driving you are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than a driver who is not using a phone. This risk appears to be similar for both hand-held and hands-free phones, because it is the cognitive distraction that is an issue, not only the physical distraction associated with holding the phone. Text messaging appears to have an even more severe impact on driving behaviour and crash risk.

The Report concludes with some of the countermeasures that could be put in place to tackle this emerging problem. These include:

  • setting up data collection systems to assess the magnitude of the problem;
  • adopting and enforcing legislation;
  • encouraging policies to address mobile phone use among employers with large fleets; and
  • running campaigns to increase public awareness about the risks of the behaviour.

Summary

Full report

References

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