Mobile phone conversations
quadruple the likelihood of crashing, suggests previous studies. With mobile phone use by drivers now a reality, a groundbreaking QUT
review looking at the issue as a task-sharing problem has recommended
further research into how to make the practice safer.
Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research
& Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), said previous studies had
attempted to measure system outcomes or driving performances
independently but this was the first to consider how the actual
interaction with mobile phones affects driver performance from a systems
‘Sometimes it will be critical for people to be able to use their phone while driving but we can look at how to make it safer which is a completely new approach to the distracted driving problem.’
"Sometimes it will be critical for people to be able to use their
phone but we can look at how to make it safer which is a completely new
approach to the distracted driving problem," said Mr Oviedo-Trespalacios
who has just published the results of his PhD research - Understanding
the impacts of mobile phone distraction on driving performance: a
systematic review - in international journal Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
"There are two important considerations. One is that the enforcement
of mobile phone usage while driving is expensive and difficult and the
second is that data worldwide shows even with extensive law and
enforcement people use their phones anyway. So research into the interaction between drivers and mobile phones
could provide input for countermeasures to regulate usage and achieve
safe driving-mobile phone integration"
"If a driver is using their phone in an unsafe situation based on
traffic complexity, for example, an alert could be given, either through
the phone or the vehicle - perhaps like an alarm noise or screen
blackout - as a prompt for them to get their full attention back on the
road. We could also develop phone software able to select how tasks
must be performed while driving to ensure safety is maintained."
"There is so much focus on driverless vehicles and safety features
like automated braking or reverse parking that will have safety benefits
in the medium or long term. Yet the intensive promotion of automation
could cause policy-makers and vehicle manufacturers to overlook the
dangers posed by mobile phone distraction today."
Mr. Oviedo-Trespalacios's review analyzed an extensive
body of research on mobile phone distraction on driving performance from
"People who use their mobile phones while driving tend to slow down
but they don't necessarily see pedestrians, often swerve out of their
lane and are less in control of their steering and brake pedals. We are not going to turn back time and stop people behaving this
way so instead we should look at how we can use technology to make
mobile-phone technology safer while on the road."