It is well known that cell phone use while driving can lead to a fatal car accident, but studies are now showing that even the mere anticipation of receiving a call or text could become a distraction
itself. Even if the driver has no intent to answer a call or read a text until they are safely off the road, they could still be at a high risk of causing a fatal crash.
In a study conducted at the University of Washington, researchers tested 384 students on what is called a Cell Phone Overuse Scale or, CPOS, which is a 24-part test that assesses four problem areas of cell phone use:
- frequent anticipation of calls or texts
- interference with normal activities
- a strong emotional reaction to the cell phone
- recognizing problematic usage
The results showed that for each one-point increase on the CPOS, there was approximately a one-percent increase in the number of previous car accidents, and of the four problematic variables tested, the frequent anticipation of calls or texts was a major factor in contributing to crashes.
“Young drivers continue to use cell phones in the car, despite the known risk of crash(ing),” according to Dr. Beth E. Ebel, of the University of Washington. She also states that she and her fellow researchers were interested in understanding the relationship between the driver and their phone, almost suggesting that individuals view their phones as something more than just an electronic device.
It’s easy to see how people can become somewhat addicted to their phones, since so many smart phones now act as personal assistants, complete with interactive voice programs. For example, Apple has developed a personal assistant app that encourages users to speak and interact with it in much the way they would with a human being. As technology advances, it seems that the line between human interactivity and artificial intelligence is becoming less blurred each and every year. While new technology can provide amazing tools, it is also contributing to the many issues surrounding distracted driving.
Jennifer M. Whitehill, a PhD student at the University of Washington recognizes that distracted driving is an epidemic, stating “We know it is important to prevent young drivers from taking their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road to use a cell phone.” Perhaps this study and studies like it will continue to promote distracted driving awareness, and ultimately blank it from society.
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Category: Car Accidents
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