Cellular Phones Contribute to Dangerous Driving

Cellular Phones Contribute to Dangerous Driving

Chris S. Dula (East Tennessee State University, USA) and Benjamin A. Martin (East Tennessee State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch105
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In the U.S. alone, motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are the leading cause of death for people aged 11 to 27, resulting in 32,367 deaths and 2,217,000 injuries in 2011 (NHTSA, 2013a). In 2012, distraction-related MVCs are believed to have killed over 3,000 and injured over 420,000 (NHTSA, 2013b). A highly prevalent distraction is cellular (cell) phone use by drivers. A variety of factors, including demographics, overconfidence in driving ability, psychological conditioning, and social norms contribute to the persistent pervasiveness of cell phone use while driving. Talking on cell phones is not the only problem as texting has become a common means of communication. Texting may be even more dangerous than talking as it often requires drivers to divert their eyes from traffic. This article reviews research on cell phone use by drivers and resultant safety hazards, while exploring possible solutions and future directions for research such as the use of Behavior-Based Safety approaches and changes in policies and laws.
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In the U.S. alone, motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are the leading cause of death for people aged 11 to 27, resulting in 32,367 deaths and 2,217,000 injuries in 2011 (NHTSA, 2013a). Traffic safety researchers do not call these grim events ‘accidents’ because that term implies something caused by uncontrollable factors, and most MVCs are preventable (Dula & Martin, 2013). One preventable cause of MVCs is distraction, where driver inattention contributes to between a low of 25% and potentially a high of 80% of MVCs (NHTSA, 2009; 2010). One type of distraction is cell phone use while driving.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Dangerous Driving: Driving behaviors that have the potential to endanger self or others, within a broad spectrum with three primary sub-divisions: 1) intentional acts of aggression toward others, 2) negative emotions and/or cognitions experienced while driving, and 3) risk-taking ( Dula & Geller, 2003 AU69: The citation "Dula & Geller, 2003" matches multiple references. Please add letters (e.g. "Smith 2000a"), or additional authors to the citation, to uniquely match references and citations. ).

Driving While Distracted (DWD): Any point in which a driver is engaging in tasks other than those relevant to safe driving. These include a wide variety of behaviors, such as changing a car stereo, talking on a cell phone, texting on a cell phone, using the Internet or GPS systems, watching videos, being lost in thought, etc. This falls within the risky driving subtype of dangerous driving.

Text/Texting: Using the keypad of a cell phone or other electronic device to type messages, but also including use of voice commands to create texts on such devices. This also includes doing the same to create memos/notes to oneself and emailing.

Behavior-Based Safety (BBS): An approach to ameliorating at-risk behaviors and increasing safe behaviors, based on objective recording of critical behaviors, positive approaches to delivering constructive feedback, positive reinforcement of desired behavior changes, and systematic testing and refinement of interventions based upon relevant data.

Distraction (Inattention): Occurs when a driver’s attention is diverted from driving-relevant tasks, like monitoring the road and regularly checking mirrors, where inattention is a major contributor to MVCs (see below). The CDC identified three primary types: visual, manual, and cognitive.

Traffic Safety: Any type of focus (e.g., media messages, research agendas, legislative efforts, law enforcement, interpersonal communication, individual behavior/attitude) which promotes enhancing or maintaining safety in the realm of motor vehicle travel.

Cellular (Cell) Phones: Devices used to wirelessly communicate with others, which includes smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and older conventional models such as the flip phone.

Texting While/During Driving: Engaging in texting while driving to communicate on a cell phone or other electronic device, which is one type of distracted driving, thus falling within the risky driving subtype of dangerous driving.

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