Listening Poses Cell Phone Driving Dangers
Talking or Listening Make It Harder to Stay in Lane, Maintain Safe Speed
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 26, 2005 - Whether you're talking or just listening, using a cell phone
may make it harder to drive a car safely.
A new study showed that drivers who were speaking or listening had more
difficulty maintaining a steady speed, keeping a constant distance between
themselves and other vehicles, and staying in the proper lane.
"Unexpectedly we found that speaking and listening had very similar
detrimental effects," says researcher Tate Kubose, a postdoctoral fellow in
the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of
Illinois, in a news release. "These results challenge the widespread
presumption that production is harder than comprehension and the expectation
that talking while driving is necessarily more disruptive than
Researchers say the results show that the mental task of conversing on a
cell phone in addition to the physical task of handling the equipment both
impair a person's ability to drive safely.
Listening Impairs Driving Skills
In the study, researchers tested college students' skills while driving
virtual cars and performing various tasks that required either talking or
listening to a speaker in the car while driving, similar to using a hands-free
cell phone while driving.
For example, while driving the students had to provide answers about the
location of various buildings on their campus or verify statements made by
others about the relative positions of buildings on campus.
The results showed that both speaking and listening had negative effects on
Drivers had a harder time maintaining a constant speed or distance between
themselves and other traffic than when they were only driving.
Interestingly, researchers found that when drivers were speaking they had
better lane control although their speed control was worse.
Researchers say that before this study, it had been expected that speaking
would be more detrimental than listening because speaking is often thought to
be a more challenging task.