An international study of distracted driving has identified four types of drivers who resist messages to avoid talking or texting behind the wheel. Interestingly, women were substantially more likely than men to engage in distracted driving, so women are the first of the four profiles. The others include people who are frequent users of their phones, drivers who are highly disinhibited, and those with negative attitudes about safety.
The study also found that novice drivers are much more likely than experienced ones to drive distracted. In fact, as the number of years behind the wheel increases, the likelihood of driving distracted decreases.
As you might suspect, the study found that people engage in some risk assessment before using their phones to talk, text or access apps. For example, people are less likely to use their phones in challenging driving conditions. Drivers are more likely to call than to text. Many people only initiate calls or texts when they're stopped at traffic lights.
Unfortunately, "drivers are not good at identifying where it is safe to use their phone. It is safer for drivers to just pull over in an appropriate place to use their phone quickly and then resume their journey," according to one of the study's authors.
The researchers hope that understanding who is driving distracted and why could allow for better targeting of public information and enforcement campaigns. For example, since the study found that the presence of law enforcement served to reduce the incidence of distracted driving, high-visibility policing might be an effective strategy.
In the U.S., distraction from cellphones is a factor in 25 percent of all car crashes. However, the actual crash risk varies by the specific behavior. The researchers say that talking on a cellphone drives up your crash risk by 2.2 times. Texting increases your risk by 6.1 times.
Worldwide, studies have shown that 18 percent of drivers in high-income nations use their cellphones behind the wheel. That number goes up to 31 percent in low- and middle-income countries. And, despite laws limiting or prohibiting cellphone use behind the wheel, the activity is expected to increase.
One takeaway from the study is that a lot of the participants required a great deal of convincing that mobile phone use while driving is dangerous. Many seemed to believe that the distracting effect is minor.
If you've ever been involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you know that the effect isn't minor. If you or a loved one are suffering after a distracted-driver crash, discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney.