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Hum Factors. 2018 Feb;60(1):101-133. doi: 10.1177/0018720817748145.

Does Talking on a Cell Phone, With a Passenger, or Dialing Affect Driving Performance? An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Experimental Studies.

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University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Washington, DC.


Objective An up-to-date meta-analysis of experimental research on talking and driving is needed to provide a comprehensive, empirical, and credible basis for policy, legislation, countermeasures, and future research. Background The effects of cell, mobile, and smart phone use on driving safety continues to be a contentious societal issue. Method All available studies that measured the effects of cell phone use on driving were identified through a variety of search methods and databases. A total of 93 studies containing 106 experiments met the inclusion criteria. Coded independent variables included conversation target (handheld, hands-free, and passenger), setting (laboratory, simulation, or on road), and conversation type (natural, cognitive task, and dialing). Coded dependent variables included reaction time, stimulus detection, lane positioning, speed, headway, eye movements, and collisions. Results The overall sample had 4,382 participants, with driver ages ranging from 14 to 84 years ( M = 25.5, SD = 5.2). Conversation on a handheld or hands-free phone resulted in performance costs when compared with baseline driving for reaction time, stimulus detection, and collisions. Passenger conversation had a similar pattern of effect sizes. Dialing while driving had large performance costs for many variables. Conclusion This meta-analysis found that cell phone and passenger conversation produced moderate performance costs. Drivers minimally compensated while conversing on a cell phone by increasing headway or reducing speed. A number of additional meta-analytic questions are discussed. Application The results can be used to guide legislation, policy, countermeasures, and future research.


cell; dialing; driver distraction; driving performance; meta-analysis; mobile and smart phone conversation; passenger conversation; research synthesis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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