The mere presence of a mobile phone : Does it influence driving performance?

Journal article


Chee, Priscilla, Irwin, Julia, Bennett, Joanne and Carrigan, Ann J.. (2021). The mere presence of a mobile phone : Does it influence driving performance? Accident Analysis and Prevention. 159, p. 106226. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2021.106226
AuthorsChee, Priscilla, Irwin, Julia, Bennett, Joanne and Carrigan, Ann J.
Abstract

The ubiquity of mobile phones has led to a rapid increase in its presence and use in vehicles, especially among young adults (up to 25 years), who are generally the least experienced group of drivers. The potential for phones to draw attention away from the main driving task has significant consequences for road safety. Previous studies have found that the mere presence of a mobile phone can be distracting by impairing attention in experimental non-driving contexts. However, the effect of phone presence, independent to usage, has not yet been examined in the context of driving. As such, the present study examined whether the mere presence of a mobile phone, its proximity to the driver, and power status (on/off) influenced the driving performance of young drivers. Additionally, this study assessed whether the effects of phone presence and proximity were moderated by an individual’s level of dependence on, or emotional attachment to, their phone. A sample of 127 undergraduate psychology students (M = 19.76, SD = 1.63) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (1) phone absent (control), (2) phone on, in holder, (3) phone off, in holder, and (4) phone on, in pocket. They all completed the same simulated drive, and were measured for degree of phone dependence and phone emotional attachment. Overall, drivers in all the phone present conditions made significantly more driving errors (speeding and collision) compared to those in the phone absent (control) condition, irrespective of proximity to the phone and whether it was on or off. Phone dependence, but not phone emotional attachment, moderated the effect of phone presence on speeding behaviour. These findings suggest that the mere presence of a phone is distracting for drivers, especially so for those who are highly dependent on their phone, which may place them at a greater risk of a distraction induced crash.

Keywordsphone presence; phone proximity; phone dependence; distracted driving; young drivers
Year2021
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Journal citation159, p. 106226
PublisherElsevier Ltd
ISSN0001-4575
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2021.106226
PubMed ID34198051
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85108891100
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-10
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online29 Jun 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted31 May 2021
Deposited15 Nov 2021
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