Author(s): Strayer DL, Drews FA, Crouch DJ
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research was to determine the relative impairment associated with conversing on a cellular telephone while driving. BACKGROUND: Epidemiological evidence suggests that the relative risk of being in a traffic accident while using a cell phone is similar to the hazard associated with driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit. The purpose of this research was to provide a direct comparison of the driving performance of a cell phone driver and a drunk driver in a controlled laboratory setting. METHOD: We used a high-fidelity driving simulator to compare the performance of cell phone drivers with drivers who were intoxicated from ethanol (i.e., blood alcohol concentration at 0.08\% weight/volume). RESULTS: When drivers were conversing on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone, their braking reactions were delayed and they were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on a cell phone. By contrast, when drivers were intoxicated from ethanol they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking. CONCLUSION: When driving conditions and time on task were controlled for, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk. APPLICATION: This research may help to provide guidance for regulation addressing driver distraction caused by cell phone conversations.
This article was published in Hum Factors
and referenced in Journal of Ergonomics