Calling all Appraisers: Shut Up and Drive
People who spend a significant amount of time in their vehicles may want to rethink the temptation to multitask over the phone while driving. A new study finds that if you conduct professional or personal business over the phone while driving, you may wind up killing more than two birds.
In case you missed it, research released in July by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that using a cell phone while driving quadruples the risk of getting into a crash with serious injuries. The study also suggests that using a hands-free device instead of a handheld phone does not necessarily improve safety.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that handheld devices were very slightly riskier than hands-free but the difference is not statistically significant. There also was no difference in the risk posed to male and female drivers or to drivers older and younger than 30.
The researchers used cell phone records to compare phone use of those involved in a serious crash – 10 minutes prior of the actual crash, with cell use by the same driver during the previous week. It studied 456 drivers in Perth, Australia who owned or used mobile phones and had been in a crash that put them in a hospital emergency room between April 2002 and July 2004.
Each driver’s cell phone usage during the 10 minutes prior to the accident was compared with their use during at least one earlier period when no accident occurred. In this way, each driver served as his or her own control group in the study.
The institute had tried to conduct the study in the United States but could not get access to records from phone companies. Many studies examining cell phone use in vehicles have been based on police reports, but critics say those records are unreliable because it is difficult to corroborate whether a driver was using a phone.