It's The Driver, Stupid: So Don't Blame The Cell Phone

This article is more than 8 years old.
(Marilyn M./flickr)
(Marilyn M./flickr)

The Boston Globe reports:

People who chat behind the wheel often drive more aggressively even after they hang up, according to a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,

“The people who are more willing to frequently engage in cellphone use are higher-risk drivers, independent of the phone,”

said Bryan Reimer, associate director of MIT’s New England University Transportation Center. “It’s not just a subtle difference with those willing to pick up the phone. This is a big difference.”

Reimer and a team of MIT researchers studied the behavior of 108 Greater Boston drivers. About half acknowledged frequent phone use when driving; the rest said they rarely used their phones behind the wheel.

And though none of the drivers used phones during the tests, the frequent callers tended to drive faster, change lanes more often, and spend more time in the far-left lane than those who rarely used their phones. The frequent callers were also more likely to accelerate rapidly and to slam on the brakes.

(Is this phenomenon worse in Boston, where drivers are notoriously aggressive, I wonder? Based on my trip back from the Cape yesterday — where drivers drifted into the left lane obliviously, without signaling, and young-looking drivers gossiped and texted in traffic, I'd say yes.)

This program aired on August 27, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.