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Anticipating cell phone calls leads to crashes

It is becoming a well known fact nowadays that using a new or old cell phone while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle increases the likelihood of being involved in a car crash but now new evidence is emerging that that just the act of anticipating a cell phone call or text message can do likewise.

Jennifer M Whitehill, PhD, from the University of Washington’s Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Centre, conducted the research, which was presented yesterday to the Pediatric Academic Societies. She, along with colleagues, tried to study the link between motor vehicle crashes and compulsive use of cell phones.

Over 380 undergraduate students were enlisted to take part in the Cell Phone Overuse Scale, which is a 24-hour instrument for the measuring of aspects of cell phone use. Frequent anticipation of calls and messages were measured along with how it interfered with normal activities such as interaction with family and friends, the level of emotional response to the cell phone and whether or not there was any recognition of the fact of cell phone overuse.

“Young drivers continue to use cell phones in the car, despite the known risk of crash,” notes senior author Beth E Ebel, who is the director of the centre and the University’s associate professor of pediatrics. The study found that an increased level of call anticipation was a significant association when it came to previous crashes.