Distracted driving has been a major topic in car crash prevention. As New York City residents know, many studies suggest that the risk of a car accident increases dramatically when a motorist texts or talks on the phone while driving. However, did you know that new research suggests that you do not even need to be chatting on your mobile device to be distracted? Reports say that just thinking about receiving a call or message is enough to take your mind off of the road.
In a recent study, undergraduate students were asked to take a standardized survey indicating their level of cell phone attachment. When compared with the participants' driving records, researchers found a significant relationship between attachment to mobile devices and motor vehicle accidents.
In the study, 384 psychology students were tracked for three years. The research showed that among those who were least attached to their phones, researchers counted about 25 car crashes per 100 people per year. However, among those who were addicted to their cell phones, that figure jumped to 38 crashes per 100 people per year.
Research shows that simply expecting something to happen on your phone raises your risk of having a crash. Just feeling compelled to check your phone is enough of a distraction.
This new study presents a new problem. With this data in mind, we now know that you can put your phone away or even turn it off; however, we cannot really control one's thoughts. Furthermore, the act of ignoring a phone may inevitably make some people think about it even more. Does this mean that distracted driving will be a problem forever?
Source: The Atlantic, "Can simply thinking about your phone lead to a car crash?" Brian Fung, April 30, 2012