Road Safety and Mobile Phone Behaviors

Road Safety and Mobile Phone Behaviors

Junaid Ahmad Bhatti (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre Research Institute (SRI), Canada)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8239-9.ch107


Mobile phone use while driving is one of the major road safety risks. In surveys from different settings, the rate of mobile phone use while driving ranged from 1 to 11%. Literature from observational and experimental studies show that driving capacities such as reacting to traffic hazards, maintaining a central lane position, maintaining a safe distance and speed are negatively affected when using a mobile phone while driving. Several epidemiological studies suggest that motor vehicle collision risks increase by two to nine times when using a mobile phone (handheld or hands-free) compared to not using the phone while driving. Considering these findings, almost three-quarters of the countries have adopted legislation banning the use of handheld mobile phone devices while driving. These interventions, however, are insufficient to deal with the use of hands-free mobile phones while driving and texting which are challenging to ascertain and prevent. Currently, “in-vehicle” and collision avoidance technologies are being evaluated to further reduce the impact of these road menaces in our society.
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Mobile phone use while driving, riding or walking is a frequent road behavior involved in motor vehicle collisions (Centers for Disease & Prevention, 2013; World Health Organization, 2011), which are the leading cause of mortality and hospitalization around the globe (Mathers & Loncar, 2006). According to the National Safety Council, mobile phone use while driving is suspected in slightly more than a quarter of the motor vehicle collisions in the United States (US) (National Safety Council, 2010). The costs of mobile phone use-related collisions to the US economy lie somewhere between 12 and 43 billion US$ in 2003 (Cohen & Graham, 2003). Though mobile phone use during walking or riding has been shown to increase motor vehicle collision risks, the focus of the available literature until very recently had been its use by drivers and subsequent collision risks (World Health Organization, 2011). This article, therefore, summarizes the literature on the effects of mobile phone use on driving behavior and road safety.

Current Knowledge in Mobile Phone Use while Driving

The article is divided into four sections describing the trends of mobile phone use while driving, its effects on driving capacities the motor vehicle collision and injury risks, and the interventions to tackle this road safety menace. Of note, Dr. Redelmeier (Redelmeier & Tibshirani, 1997) at the University of Toronto and Dr. Violanti (Violanti, 1997, 1998) at the Rochester Institute of Technology, New York were among the earliest scientists demonstrating that mobile phone use posed a significant threat to road safety by using vehicle collision data. Currently, Dr. Caird (Caird et al., 2008; Caird et al. 2014) at the University of Calgary and Dr. McCartt (McCartt et al., 2006; McCartt et al. 2013) at the Institute of Highway Safety are authority in this subject as both have published influential reviews on different aspects of mobile phone use while driving.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Injury Prevention: All methods and interventions that prevent and reduce the harmful effects of injuries caused by application of an external mechanism, e.g., motor vehicle collisions.

Mobile Phone Use while Driving: Any mobile phone manipulation while operating a motor vehicle, including but not limited to, reaching, conversing, dialing, texting or internet use.

Road Safety: All actions to prevent fatalities and injuries on the road network.

Motor Vehicle Collision or Road Traffic Crash: Any collision of motor vehicle with another motor vehicle or an object resulting in damage to the vehicle, animals or human beings. The term “accident” implies unpreventable and is not advisable when referring to motor vehicle collisions or road traffic crashes.

Distracted Driving: Operating a motorized vehicle with inadequate attention to ensure safe operation of the vehicle, e.g., when talking on the phone, moving your eyes away from the road while reaching an object.

Intexticated: Distracted by either reading to writing a text while operating a motorized vehicle.

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