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Hum Factors. 2006 Summer;48(2):381-91.

A comparison of the cell phone driver and the drunk driver.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, 380 South, 1530 East, RM 502, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0251, USA. david.strayer@utah.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The objective of this research was to determine the relative impairment associated with conversing on a cellular telephone while driving.

BACKGROUND:

Epidemiological evidence suggests that the relative risk of being in a traffic accident while using a cell phone is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit. The purpose of this research was to provide a direct comparison of the driving performance of a cell phone driver and a drunk driver in a controlled laboratory setting.

METHOD:

We used a high-fidelity driving simulator to compare the performance of cell phone drivers with drivers who were intoxicated from ethanol (i.e., blood alcohol concentration at 0.08% weight/volume).

RESULTS:

When drivers were conversing on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone, their braking reactions were delayed and they were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on a cell phone. By contrast, when drivers were intoxicated from ethanol they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking.

CONCLUSION:

When driving conditions and time on task were controlled for, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.

APPLICATION:

This research may help to provide guidance for regulation addressing driver distraction caused by cell phone conversations.

PMID:
16884056
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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