Driving performance while using cell phones: an observational study

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Introduction: Through spontaneous driving observations, this study sought to examine the impact of using a hands-free cell phone while driving on speed and safe gap keeping behaviors. The study also examined the association between the measure of disturbance created by using a cell phone and the driver's awareness of the disturbance. Method: Twenty-three male adults were observed while driving for an hour and a half each; drivers were unaware of being observed. During the session, each of the participants received a phone call, initiated by an associate of the observer. The experiment was divided into two periods during which the experimental parameters were monitored: 10 minutes during conversation on a cell phone and 10 minutes of non-conversation on a hands-free cell phone. After the experiment, the driver was questioned concerning the extent to which his/her driving was disturbed by the cell phone conversation. Results: T-test for matched samples revealed that the gaps between the drivers' cars and those in front of them diminished when drivers were engaged in the cell phone conversations. Repeated measures ANOVA revealed that drivers that had short conversations did not change their speed, while drivers who were engaged in long (over 16 minutes) conversations drove faster. No effect of drivers' awareness toward cell phone-related disturbance on actual driving behavior monitored in the present study was found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-212
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


  • Awareness
  • Cell phones
  • Disturbance
  • Driving
  • Mobile (Cell) Telephones


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