Drivers interacting with cell phones to perform tasks such as texting or surfing the internet are two to eight times more likely to be involved in a crash, according to a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Drivers who are talking on their cell phones are up to four times as likely to be involved in a crash.
The new report updates previous research, some of which is more than ten years old. The goal of the AAA Foundation was to examine the safety impact of using a cell phone while driving in the era of the modern smartphone. As phones have evolved from simple flip phones to high tech smartphones, drivers have changed the ways in which they interact with the devices, such as using phones to surf the internet.
“Any task that requires a driver to take their eyes or attention off the road is a distraction, and should be avoided while the vehicle is in motion,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs. “Drivers should only use these technologies for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes.”
Drivers disapprove of using cell phones to talk or text while driving, but do so anyway, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s most recent Traffic Safety Culture Index, which measures the attitude of the public toward driving safety issues.
“Many drivers have developed a mindset of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ when it comes to road safety,” Maguire said. More than two in three drivers say they personally consider it unacceptable to talk on a cell phone while driving. Yet, one in three say they talk on their phones while driving fairly often or regularly.
The new AAA Foundation study investigated the relationship between cell phone use and crash risk using data from a sample of more than 3,500 drivers whose driving was monitored for a period of several months as they drove in their own vehicles.
“Driver distraction continues to be a growing concern within the traffic safety community as well as law enforcement,” Maguire said. “Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2016 show 3,450 distraction-related deaths. Studies like this focus needed attention on a problem that impacts all road users.”