The GSM Association (GSMA) recognises that driving safely is of paramount importance to everyone on today’s busy roads.
The GSMA believes that mobile phones should be used responsibly at all times and many of our member companies are supporting driver safety initiatives.
Here are some key points on phone use by drivers:
- Obey the law: In some countries 1 it is prohibited to use handheld phones.
- Drive safe: Don’t make or accept calls in difficult traffic conditions.
- Don’t text: Don’t write or read texts, emails or access the Internet from a laptop or handheld device.
- Stay in control: Avoid or end calls that are likely to be long, complex or emotional.
Where handsfree use is permitted for voice calls, it alone doesn’t make using a mobile phone while driving safe. Drivers should consider road conditions and other factors before making or accepting a call. It may be sensible to pull-over (if this can be done safely) or wait until your trip is complete before making or taking a call.
A driver simulation study by the Monash University Accident Research Centre in Australia found that that on average drivers took their eyes off the road for about 0.9 seconds while text messaging, compared to about 0.3 seconds when not 2. In 0.9 seconds a car would travel 15 m at 60 km/hr or 25 m at 100 km/hr, almost 4 or 6 car lengths respectively.
The message is clear don’t write, read or send texts while driving.
There are many technical features such as short codes, voice activated dialling and other speech based applications, for example, navigation tools, that can minimise the physical distractions associated with mobile phone use. There are also smartphone applications intended to restrict phone usage when driving.
For Policy Makers
There is a significant body of research showing that distractions are a major cause of motor vehicle accidents. Distractions may include eating, smoking, applying make-up, dealing with noisy passengers, tuning car radios and operating CDs, outside objects and use of mobile phones.
Some countries have additional restrictions on mobile phone use by inexperienced or young drivers so that they can focus on the primary task of driving safely before they engage in any secondary task.
There may also be restrictions for certain groups of professional drivers such as school bus and other passenger vehicles.
The US government National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sponsored a naturalistic study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in 2006, in which 100 cars were instrumented to allow recording of driver activities, commonly known as the 100-Car Study 3. By comparing distractions during normal driving to distractions during crashes and near-crashes, estimates were made of the relative risk of drivers when distracted.
The results summarised in the table below confirmed that distraction is a common occurrence while driving and that distractions that require drivers to take their eyes off the road are potentially more of a safety problem than purely cognitive distractions.
Secondary Tasks in the 100-Car Study
Type of Secondary Task
Reaching for a moving object
Insect in vehicle
Looking at external object
Dialling hand-held device
Reaching for non-moving object
Talking/listing to a hand-held device
Drinking from open container
Other personal hygiene
Adjusting the radio
Passenger in adjacent seat
Passenger in rear seat
Child in rear seat
The rows in bold show the statistically significant results, meaning that there is greater confidence in a reliable increase in risk associated with that activity. In follow-up, a much larger naturalistic driving study is expected to be completed 2012.
These results and other studies show that it is important for road safety authorities to inform the community of the dangers of all forms of driver distractions and inattention.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phones _and_driving_safety
- Hosking, S.G., Young, K.L., & Regan, M.A. (2006). The effects of text messaging on young novice driver performance Monash University Accident Research Centre, Australia, Report #246. Average car length estimated as 4 m.
- Klauer, S. G., Dingus, T. A., Neale, V. L., Sudweeks, J. D., Ramsey, D. J. (2006). The Impact of Driver Inattention on Near-Crash/Crash Risk: An Analysis Using the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study Data. DOT HS 810 594. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Driver Safety Initiatives
Here we highlight some of the initiatives by GSMA members to encourage responsible mobile phone use by drivers. It does not capture all initiatives and we welcome additional examples by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.