Preliminary Research Developing a Theory of Cell Phone Distraction and Social Relationships

Abstract


Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death and injury for people aged 5 - 34, accounting annually for over 3000 deaths, 100 times as many injuries. It is well established that distracted driving, and cell phone use in particular, pose significant crash risk to drivers. Research has demonstrated that drivers are well aware of this danger but over 90% of drivers report using a cell phone while driving. Given the likely role that social influence plays in whether people use cell phones while driving surprisingly little research has been conducted to investigate whom drivers are talking with or texting. We report the results of a national survey to determine whom drivers are most likely to call or text while driving and compared these results with general cell phone calling and texting patterns and previous findings on the prevalence of calling and texting. The results suggest that social distance is a key factor in cell phone use while driving: teens are more likely to talk with parents, and adults are more likely to talk with spouses than general calling patterns would suggest. We discuss whether the purpose of calls made while driving, such as coordination, could help explain these patterns. We propose next steps for further examining the role social relationships play in cell phone use while driving and potentially reducing teen driver cell phone use by reducing calls from parents.


LaVoie, N., Lee, Y.-C., & Parker, J. (In Press). Preliminary Research Developing a Theory of Cell Phone Distraction and Social Relationships.



 

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