84 Cell Phone Use and Risky Driving

Based on research by Nan Zhao et al, 2013. Psychology Science Minute written by Kyle Piecora, M.S..

Are you a risk taker?  Do you drive while using your cell phone? The apparent higher crash risk may be due to the direct interference of cell phone use with driving but also due to tendencies to engage in risky driving in general.

Using highway observation and a measure of self-reported driving attitudes and behaviors, visiting Chinese Academy of Sciences psychologist Nan Zhao and MIT researchers compared driving habits of frequent cell phone and rare users.  Before driving with technology monitoring their vehicle’s performance, the participants completed a questionnaire about their aberrant driving behaviors. High cell phone users, while driving, reported more driving violations and greater willingness to violate traffic rules.  They also showed greater acceptance of speeding, more aggressive driving.  When actually behind the wheel, they drove faster, passed frequently, changed lanes more frequently, and engaged in more “hard braking” and “fast acceleration.”

Risky driving plus distracting cell phone use is likely to increase crash involvement, a deadly combination; dangerous to all on the road.  So high cell phone users, you are especially vulnerable. Aggressive drivers, find other outlets for taking risks and speeding than on the road that endangers others, not just yourself. Practice safe driving!


Zhao, N., Reimer, B., Mehler, B., D’Ambrosio, L. A., & Coughlin, J. F.  (2013).  Self-reported and observed risky driving behaviors among frequent and infrequent cell phone users.  Accident Analysis and Prevention, 61, 71–77.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2012.07.019

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