The reason cell phone driving bans fail

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Last updated April 12, 2019

A new study from MIT in Boston has revealed that the reason cell phone driving bans may be ineffective is because people who use their cell phones while driving are more likely to already be unsafe drivers.

The brand new study, which involved as many as 108 people, separated drivers into two groups: one for those who frequently made use of their cell phones while driving and those who only did so on rare occasions.  In comparison to the rare user group, those who frequently used their new or old cell phones while driving drove an average of 4.4 kilometers quicker, engaged in harder braking maneuvers, and changed lanes twice as often.

“These are not ‘oh my God” differences’, says Bryan Reimer, a MIT human factors engineer who also served as the leader of the study.  “They are subtle clues indicative of more aggressive driving.  It’s clear that cell phones and in and of themselves impair the ability to manage the demands of driving, but the fundamental problem may be the behavior of the individuals willing to pick up the technology.”

The 108 people were divided equally into people from three different age groups – 20s, 40s and 60s, and they asked to drive 40 minutes along Interstate 93, which is north of Boston, in a Volvo SUV that had been decked out with heart and skin monitors, onboard sensors, video cameras and an eye tracker.