Texting and Phone Use Especially Dangerous For Novice Drivers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sheila G. Klauer, Ph.D
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr.Klauer: We found that novice drivers are especially at risk of crash/near-crash involvement when engaging in secondary tasks that take their eyes off of the forward roadway.  This includes tasks with wireless devices such as texting, dialing, and reaching for the device as well as reaching for any object, eating, and looking at objects along the roadway.  We also found that the prevalence of engaging in these high risk tasks increases over time which concerns traffic safety researchers.  This is particularly concerning with the proliferation of highly capable smart phones where teens can do not only texting but also sending pictures, watching video, skype, etc.


MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr.Klauer:  While we were not surprised that these tasks increased risk, we were surprised at how much higher risk these tasks are for novice drivers.  We are hoping  that parents and teenagers hear about this study and take note.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr.Klauer: Secondary tasks that take the drivers eyes off the forward roadway increase crash/near-crash involvement.  To keep our teens and drivers of all ages safe, it is important to keep your eyes forward and minimize the time taken to engage in secondary activities.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr.Klauer: We are hoping to further assess the impact of roadway context on distraction and how this affects novice drivers.  While we believe that hands-free devices could be safer, these devices must be well-designed and truly hands free to achieve this goal.

Citation:

Distracted Driving and Risk of Road Crashes among Novice and Experienced Drivers

Sheila G. Klauer, Ph.D., Feng Guo, Ph.D., Bruce G. Simons-Morton, Ed.D., M.P.H., Marie Claude Ouimet, Ph.D., Suzanne E. Lee, Ph.D., and Thomas A. Dingus, Ph.D.

N Engl J Med 2014; 370:54-59January 2, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa1204142