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Accid Anal Prev. 2016 Feb;87:161-9. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2015.11.015. Epub 2015 Dec 24.

Safety-critical event risk associated with cell phone tasks as measured in naturalistic driving studies: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Electronic address:


A systematic review and meta-analysis of naturalistic driving studies involving estimates of safety-critical event risk associated with handheld device use while driving is described. Fifty-seven studies identified from targeted databases, journals and websites were reviewed in depth, and six were ultimately included. These six studies, published between 2006 and 2014, encompass seven sets of naturalistic driver data and describe original research that utilized naturalistic methods to assess the effects of distracting behaviors. Four studies involved non-commercial drivers of light vehicles and two studies involved commercial drivers of trucks and buses. Odds ratios quantifying safety-critical event (SCE) risk associated with talking, dialing, locating or answering, and texting or browsing were extracted. Stratified meta-analysis of pooled odds ratios was used to estimate SCE risk by distraction type; meta-regression was used to test for sources of heterogeneity. The results indicate that tasks that require drivers to take their eyes off the road, such as dialing, locating a phone and texting, increase SCE risk to a greater extent than tasks that do not require eyes off the road such as talking. Although talking on a handheld device did not increase SCE risk, further research is required to determine whether it indirectly influences SCE risk (e.g., by encouraging other cell phone activities). In addition, a number of study biases and quality issues of naturalistic driving studies are discussed.


Cell or mobile phones; Dialing; Distracted driving; Meta-analysis; Naturalistic driving; Research synthesis; Talking; Texting

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