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Young distracted drivers more prone to ‘engage in risky activity’: study

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Limerick, Ireland — Young, novice drivers who talk or text on their cellphone while behind the wheel may be more likely to engage in high-risk driving behaviors, results of a recent study suggest.

Researchers from Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Center for Software surveyed 700 German drivers with an average age of 21 who drive about 3,000 to 6,000 miles a year.

Addressing the findings in a press release, Darren Shannon, study co-author and specialized vehicle collision researcher with the Emerging Risk Group at the University of Limerick, said, “There is a strong association between those who speak on their phone and those who engage in risky activity with potentially fatal consequences, such as intoxicated driving, ignoring red traffic lights and driving with more passengers than seat belts.”

Additionally, the researchers found that distracted drivers are more likely to exceed the speed limit in urban areas by at least 12 mph as a result of reading notifications or sending texts or voice messages.

Tim Jannusch, lead study author and a doctoral candidate at Lero, said in the release that a high percentage of the respondents indicated they used their phones only to play music while driving, prompting the researchers to wonder if drivers believe the practice doesn’t qualify as distracted driving.

 

“These attitudes have implications for the safety of other road users,” Martin Mullins, study co-author and ERG co-leader, said in the release. “Our work allows for road safety authorities to accurately target information campaigns designed for younger drivers. Targeted campaigns should increase awareness that all smartphone-related activities can significantly increase the risk of a crash or near-crash event.”

The study was published in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour.

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