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Mobile phone dangers highlighted

24 November 2015

A new report confirms the dangers of ‘multi-tasking’ while driving, and identifies texting and talking on a mobile phone as the ‘most dangerous of driving multi-tasks’.

‘The battle for attention’, jointly produced by Dr Neale Kinnear and Dr Alan Stevens from RoadSafe partner the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), and Neil Greig from RoadSafe partner the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), examines a range of distractions.

As the ‘connected car’ becomes a reality it is vital to ensure that the plethora of new features on our cars make a positive contribution to the reduction in death and injury. Human error remains the biggest cause of crashes and technology has to work with the grain of people’s lives and abilities if it is to truly enhance our safety performance. The completely driverless car is still some way off and in the meantime new technology continues to run well ahead of any attempts by regulators to catch up. This report from the experts at TRL summarises what we know about distraction and concludes by posing some key questions for safety experts.

Dr Kinnear, who is a principal psychologist in the study of human behaviour and transport, and Dr Stevens, who is chief scientist and research director with internationally recognised expertise in ‘Human-Machine Interaction’, both reviewed existing research behind in-car distractions to understand the various cognitive processes and complexities in driving. Their research focuses on the dangers involved when drivers try and engage in more than one task, with results confirming it can have a ‘detrimental’ effect on the quality and accuracy of driving performance. Looking at the five key areas of distraction - cognitive, visual, auditory, manual and exposure time - the research shows that texting engages three of these to a ‘high’ level – cognitive, visual and manual. A mobile phone conversation also engages three of five areas of distraction to a ‘high’ level – cognitive, audible and exposure time.





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