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Empirical Research


To: Emily Wright

From: Lance Maxwell
Date: November 19 2015
Subject: Cell Phones and Driver Safety

In the past couple of years there has been cause of concern with cell phones and
driver safety on highways and residential streets. This has become an ever growing topic
among employers, law makers, and about anybody who drives a car or any vehicle of that
sort. Is it true that using your cell phone for texting while youre driving causes accident
or distracts you from the road?
In particular I wanted to know whether cell phone usage while
driving is the cause of car accidents. I also wanted to see if cell phones
are a distraction and how big of a distraction it is.
For the method I used the site EBSCO host. That has a location
on its page called advanced premier search which allows us to access
academic journals. I will be looking at some of those journals to help
decide whether or not that cell phones have a distraction on drivers. I
also looked at multiple journals that were peer reviewed. Journals from
the Bernstein brothers about texting at the light and other forms, also
N.Seppa and the impact of cell phones on driver safety among other
journals that were helpful.
In December of 2008 there was a study done by psychologists at
the University of Utah. In the study they paired 41 drivers with friends.
The age range was from 18 to 49 but the average age was 20. They
suggested that people on cell phones made significantly more driving
errors. Their study consisted of three parts. The first part paired drivers
with their partners positioned elsewhere. The second part had them
seated next to each other and the third had them seated next to each
other but no talking was allowed. The findings came up that the drivers
using cell phones were four times as likely to miss their turnoff and
drift in their lanes. Researchers speculate that driving while talking on
a cell phone may make it harder for someone to process external

information and concentrate on driving conditions a condition they

termed inattention blindness. (Strayer and Drews 2007)
In an article in science news written Nathan Seppa he suggests
that even though you have two eyes on the road and both hands on
the wheel does not mean you are safe while on a hand free cell phone.
It states that the conversation is the biggest factor. The conversation
impedes what you process and cause your reaction time to slow down.
According to Daniel Simons, a psychologist at the University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign. "Just because you look at something doesn't
mean you see it."(Seppa 2013) Simons also suggests that people can
be focus on something in a select area and miss another thing in that
same area but because they are distracted they dont see it. It may
subtle but that why studies have shown that the risk of accidents
quadruple while cell phones are in use.
Table 1 Overall device usage


In motion

No device use

792 (79.2 %)

915 (91.5 %)


145 (14.5 %)

30 (3.0 %)


63 (6.3 %)

55 (5.5 %)

In a study done by BMC Public Health they took roadside observation of

2000 passenger vehicles. The first thousand were observed in motion
and the second thousand was observed at rest. According to the
results having somebody in the passenger made a difference in device
usage. When the car was stopped 14.5% of the subjects were texting
along with 6.3% talking on the device. Thats high compared three
percent texting while the car was in motion. Also while the car was in
motion there was only 5.5% of the subjects were talking. (Bernstein
In conclusion these test supports that cell phones because you to
lose focus and slows down your reaction even if it is subtle. After
looking at all the data it suggests also that if you have passenger in
the car with you the less likely you are to use your cellular device.
Amazedly you are more likely to use your phone while stopped then in

motion. I also what throw out that there is a three-way disconnect

between scientists who study it, legislators who regulate it and drivers
who talk on the phone.
Based on the test study, I believe that there is a major concern
that cell phones due cause car accidents. Whether its just cell phones
by itself or multitasking with cell phones. I believe if our automobile
insurance company does these things:
1. For first time buyers would go through a mandatory
safety course for 7 days. This would not just be over cell
phones use but would give an overview of all safety issues.
Would be given certificate at end of program.
2. For clean driving record give an discount on their premium, if
they dont have a clean driving record markup including a higher
mark up if because of cell phone.
3. Every year have them renew their safety certificate,
which would allow a discount on their premium.
Plain and simple if they want cheaper insurance get certified.

Bernstein, J. J., & Bernstein, J. (2015). Texting at the light and other
forms of device distraction behind the wheel. BMC Public Health, 15(1),
1-5. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-2343-8
McGarva, A. R., Ramsey, M., & Shear, S. A. (2006). Effects of Driver
Cell-Phone Use on Driver Aggression. Journal of Social Psychology,
146(2), 133-146.
Moore, L. R., & Moore, G. S. (2001). THE IMPACT OF CELL PHONES ON
DRIVER SAFETY. Professional Safety, 46(6), 30.
Seppa, N. (2013). Impactful distraction: Talking while driving poses
dangers that people seem unable to see. Science News, 184(4), 20-24.
Strayer, D. L., & Drews, F. A. (2007). Cell-PhoneInduced Driver
Distraction. Current Directions In Psychological Science (WileyBlackwell), 16(3), 128-131. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00489.x