Which is Worse When Driving: Talking to a Passenger or on a Cell Phone?

In general, all distracted driving is dangerous and could result in a car accident, whether that distraction is talking to a passenger who is inside of the car or chatting on your cell phone. A University of Utah Study suggests that talking to a passenger could be safer than talking on the cell phone while you are driving. The logic of the study comparing the two types of driver distractions is interesting, but does not take all types of passengers into account, therefore did not provide complete information and may even be a bit misleading.

Study Results

The findings of the study, which were released by the American Psychological Association and printed in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, conclude that drivers who are chatting with a passenger riding in the car are less distracted, and may even pay more attention to the road, than someone who is talking on their cell phone. Interestingly enough, the study deduced that a passenger tends to slow down the conversation if traffic seems hectic or challenging, as well as talks about the traffic conditions, keeping the driver’s mind on the road.

On the other hand, the person on the other side of the cell phone cannot see what the traffic conditions are for the driver, therefore they are oblivious to what the driver is facing right in front of them. The difference between drivers distracted by a cell phone call and drivers distracted by a passenger were substantial. Lane deviations were bigger for drivers who were talking on a cell phone when compared to drivers talking to passengers. Furthermore, when passengers were in the car, nearly all drivers made it onto exit ramps, while half of the drivers talking on cell phones failed to make exits.

What the Study Failed to Consider

The comparison for this study obviously only took into consideration adult passengers sitting in the front seat of the car. However, it would be interesting to hear how the study changed if it included child passenger distractions in the back seat of the car. Not all passengers will aid in keeping the driver’s attention focused on the road. On the contrary, it would seem that children who are bickering or throwing items, or even a baby crying, could be more distracting than a cell phone call. The fact that the driver has to take his eyes off of the road and look in the rearview mirror at bickering children would certainly change the outcome of this study drastically.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness month, the perfect time to remind each other that distracted driving can be fatal, and that we can all make an effort to reduce distractions while driving. If you are talking to someone who you know is driving, be polite and tell them you will call them back later. If you have been hit by a distracted driver and have sustained damage to your vehicle or injuries, contact an Indianapolis car accident lawyer at Rowe & Hamilton to find out how you can recover the damages and recoup compensation for your injuries.

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