EMF Health-effects Research

Profiles in driver distraction: effects of cell phone conversations on younger and older drivers.

Strayer DL, Drews FA.

Hum Factors. 46(4):640-649, 2004

Our research examined the effects of hands-free cell phone conversations on simulated driving.

We found that driving performance of both younger and older adults was influenced by cell phone conversations. Compared with single-task (i.e., driving-only) conditions, when drivers used cell phones their reactions were 18% slower, their following distance was 12% greater, and they took 17% longer to recover the speed that was lost following braking. There was also a twofold increase in the number of rear-end collisions when drivers were conversing on a cell phone.

These cell-phone-induced effects were equivalent for younger and older adults, suggesting that older adults do not suffer a significantly greater penalty for talking on a cell phone while driving than compared with their younger counterparts. Interestingly, the net effect of having younger drivers converse on a cell phone was to make their average reactions equivalent to those of older drivers who were not using a cell phone.

Actual or potential applications of this research include providing guidance for recommendations and regulations concerning the use of mobile technology while driving.

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