Why You Shouldn’t Talk While Driving
We all know that texting while driving is irresponsible behavior. It puts your life, and the lives of others, at risk. But it can also be dangerous to talk while behind the wheel, and not just on your cellphone, but to a passenger in your car. Researchers at Canada’s University of Calgary looked into the issue of how the distraction of a conversation can affect driving safety. The team analyzed the findings of 93 studies involving more than 4,000 drivers from 1991 to 2015 to gauge the impact of distractions while driving. They found that talking to a passenger had negative effects similar to those that can occur when talking on a cell phone – these conversations can undermine reaction time, lane position, sign recognition, speed and distance control and the risk of a collision. For the record, the researchers noted that cellphone use contributed to roughly 34,000 crashes and more than 400 deaths on the road, according to U.S. highway traffic safety data for 2013. The Calgary researchers made the point that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road for dangerous distractions to occur – taking your mind off the road can be just as bad.
My take? These findings are interesting in that they make the case that any type of distraction – even casually talking to your passengers – can compromise safety while driving. I can’t imagine that we’ll all insist on silence in our cars, but it’s common sense not to use a cell phone while operating an automobile. You’ll be safest if you save long conversations for conventional phones and stay off the phone while driving (or pull over when you have to make or take a call).
Sarah M. Simmons et al, “Does Talking on a Cell Phone, With a Passenger, or Dialing Affect Driving Performance? An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Experimental Studies.” Human Factors, January 19, 2018, doi/10.1177/0018720817748145
Also in this week’s bulletin: