A new study has revealed that applying make-up or reading a map behind the wheel could be far more distracting than talking on the mobile phone.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which compiled the year-long research, said putting on make-up increased a driver's crash risk threefold and texting in a phone number 2.8 times, but talking or listening in a phone call only 1.3 times, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The researchers installed cameras and sensors in 100 vehicles to collect 43,000 hours of driving data over more than 3 million km so they could study real-world driving conditions.
Although talking on a phone did not significantly increase crash risk, a driver must take several risk-increasing steps to use the device.
Reaching for a phone, headset or earpiece and keying in a number increased the risk by five to six times.
The difference between high risk and low risk involved the amount of visual distraction, said the study published in the US in 2009.
However, Mark Stevenson, an epidemiologist who studies driving distractions, said naturalistic car studies were valuable but the results could be misleading.