So says David Strayer, psychology professor at the University of Utah. Radio Times' Marty Moss-Coane interviewed Stayer on Monday's show, and it was a fascinating listen. Some tidbits from the conversation, mostly derived from Strayer's studies in his lab's driving simulator:
- Cell phone conversations are much more distracting than in-car conversations. While conversation-making is a big drain on attention, if you are talking with someone in the car with you, the other person is paying attention to the road as well.
- The levels of impairment are essentially the same for hand-held and hands-free devices.
- Text-messaging while driving is, not surprisingly, even more dangerous.
- Listening while driving -- to the radio, to a book on CD, pre-recorded conversations to this interview on Radio Times -- is not nearly as problematic. It's the generation of communication, according to Strayer, that causes the interference. (phew!)
- Strayer said: "driving also interferes with your ability to make good decisions while you're on the phone." Because attention is limited, and because it takes attention to both drive safely and make good decisions, when your attention is divided, both driving and decision-making can suffer.
- Finally, if you do business on your phone while driving, Strayer suggests that you might be putting your company at risk for liability if there is an accident.
The interview is a great listen; callers asked great questions to which Stayer provided fascinating responses. A logical conclusion would be that talking on cell phones & driving don't mix.
For More Information
- Radio Times interview with David Strayer, January 27, 2009. (mp3) or find WHYY's Radio Times in iTunes.
- Drivers Distracted More by Cell Phones Than by Passengers. University of Utah News Release, November 30th, 2008.
- Drews, Frank A., Monisha Pasupathi, and David Strayer. Passenger and cell phone conversations in simulated driving. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. 14(4), Dec 2008: 392-400. (Subscription required or @ your library).
- Drivers on Cell Phones Are as Bad as Drunks. University of Utah News Release, June 29th, 2006.
- Strayer, D.L., Drews, F.A., Crouch, D.J. A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. 48(2), Jan. 2006: 381-391. (Subscription required or @ your library)
- Cell Phone Use as Dangerous as Drunken Driving. Alcohol: Problems & Solutions entry provides a nice summary of Stayer's 2006 article.
- Drivers on Cell Phones Clog Traffic. University of Utah News Release, January 1st, 2008.