New research in the US claims that talking on a cell phone while driving doesn’t raise the likelihood of accidents, buttressing the official position of Israel’s National Road Safety Authority. However, the research does conclude that fumbling with the phone, texting and other phone-related distractions can lead to more crashes.
In a study conducted by Virginia Tech and published in the January 2014 “New England Journal of Medicine,” researchers evaluated 167 car crashes and near-crashes among newly licensed drivers, and 518 crashes and near-crashes among drivers with more experience, to trace which activities were the most closely associated with accidents.
The results of the study show that for novice drivers, text messaging, dialing, fumbling for objects and eating significantly increased the risk of traffic accidents. For older drivers, only dialing heightened the chances of crashing.
However, for both inexperienced and experienced drivers, speaking on a cell phone while navigating did not raise the chances of accidents. The results also showed that the effects of speaking on the phone on driving efficiency were even more insubstantial for younger drivers than their more seasoned counterparts.
These findings, sponsored by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are consistent with a position paper presented by Chairman of the National Road Safety Authority Yaakov Sheinin and consultant Professor David Mehalel two months ago.
Both the Israeli report and the new study stress the inherent risks of text messaging and dialing, while downplaying the dangers of speaking on the phone. In Israel, speaking on a mobile, while not recommended, is legal provided that a speakerphone is used.