Recently released results from a new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) naturalistic driving study continue to show that distracted driving is a tangible threat. The study, entitled The Impact of Hand-Held and Hands-Free Cell Phone Use on Driving Performance and Safety Critical Event Risk, shows that engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times. The data were collected by VTTI and Westat. The study, which was conducted under a separate contract from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found:
- Text messaging, browsing and dialing resulted in the longest duration of drivers taking their eyes off the road.
- Text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by two times and resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds total.
- Activities performed when completing a phone call (reaching for a phone, looking up a contact and dialing the number) increased crash risk by three times.
- There is no direct increased crash risk from the specific act of talking on a cell phone. However, visual-manual tasks (locating the phone, looking at the phone and touching the phone) are always involved when using a hand-held cell phone. This makes the overall use of a hand-held cell phone riskier when driving.
- Even portable hands-free and vehicle-integrated hands-free cell phone use involved visual-manual tasks at least half of the time, which is associated with a greater crash risk.
To learn more about the VTTI study, view the full report here.