Thursday, February 03, 2005

Calling while driving

Department of the Obvious:

A University of Utah psychologist has documented what should be obvious but too few will admit: driving while talking on a cell phone markedly affects reaction times (ABC News via Slashdot).
"If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone, his reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver," said David Strayer, a University of Utah psychology professor and principal author of the study. "It's like instant aging."

And it doesn't matter whether the phone is hand-held or handsfree, he said. Any activity requiring a driver to "actively be part of a conversation" likely will impair driving abilities, Strayer said.

In fact, motorists who talk on cell phones are more impaired than drunken drivers with blood-alcohol levels exceeding 0.08, Strayer and colleague Frank Drews, an assistant professor of psychology, found during research conducted in 2003.
The study, reported in the journal Human Factors, put 18 - 25 year olds in a driving simulator and had them talk on a cell phone. The results: reaction to brake lights of a car in front of them were comparable to those of 65 - 74 year olds not using cell phones.

You don't believe it? You think you can drive as well using a cell phone going 60 miles per hour (when your car moves 88 feet in a second)?

I guess it's time to pay attention.