Smartphone use greater danger than drink driving

Using smartphones for social networking while driving is more dangerous than drink driving or being high on cannabis behind the wheel according to research published today by the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists). Despite this, eight per cent of drivers admit to using smartphones for email and social networking while driving – equivalent to 3.5 million licence holders.

Twenty-four per cent of 17-24 year old drivers – a group already at higher risk of being in a crash – admit to using smartphones for email and social networking while driving.

For their research, the IAM and TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) used DigiCar – TRL’s car driving simulator – to examine the effects of young drivers using smartphones to access facebook. In every test of driving performance, young people who were using facebook while driving were badly affected.

When sending and receiving facebook messages:

  • reaction times slowed by around 38% and participants often missed key events;
  • participants were unable to maintain a central lane position resulting in an increased number of unintentional lane departures; and
  • were unable to respond as quickly to the car in front  gradually changing speed.

When comparing these new results to previous studies the level of impairment on driving is greater than the effects of drinking, cannabis and texting.

  • Using a smartphone for social networking slows reaction times by 37.6 per cent;
  • texting slows reaction times by 37.4 per cent;
  • hands-free mobile phone conversation slows reaction times by 26.5 per cent;
  • cannabis slows reaction times by 21 per cent;
  • alcohol (above UK driving limit but below 100mg per 100ml of blood) slows reaction time by between six and 15 per cent; and
  • alcohol at the legal limit slows reaction times by 12.5 per cent.
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About dbda
dbda is a corporate social responsibility consultancy embracing education and safety in the community. We are privileged to work with a large number of blue chip corporate clients, Government organisations, charitable bodies, Institutes and local authorities. We also have a network of schools, professional bodies, associations, universities and partners, with whom we regularly work in collaboration.

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