Washington D.C. [USA], Sep 8 : Drivers find it difficult to ignore a ringing phone but they do ignore the dangers, with a new study revealing almost 50 per cent believe locating and answering a ringing phone is not as risky as talking and texting.
The research undertaken by Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Accident Research (and) Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q) found locating a ringing phone, checking who is calling, and rejecting or answering the call, is the most frequent mobile phone task undertaken by drivers.
Lead researcher Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios said that drivers did not believe that locating and answering a ringing phone was as risky as talking, texting or browsing.
"The study of 484 Queensland drivers found 45 per cent admit to locating and answering a ringing phone, compared to 28 per cent who reported speaking on a handheld device," he noted, adding, "Also concerning is that more drivers reported looking at a screen for more than 2 seconds or locating and answering a ringing phone, than they did talking on a handheld phone, texting or browsing." Oviedo-Trespalacios said when considering the risk of these different mobile phone tasks, most drivers underestimated the distracting dangers of passive phone use.
"Finding and reaching for a ringing phone is perceived by drivers as having a mid-range crash risk, however research has showed that this task is one of the most risky activities a driver can engage in," he said.
Oviedo-Trespalacios said that using a mobile phone while driving had been shown to increase crash risk four-fold.
"Novice drivers are particularly at risk as they are more likely to drive while using a mobile phone." Despite the research, 12 per cent drivers still don't believe talking on a handheld phone is dangerous.
Drivers actively avoid police detection, with about 70 per cent admitting to being on the lookout for police when using their phone.
Drivers keep their phones low and cover them to evade police detection. On a typical day, drivers are more likely to look at their mobile phone for more than 2 seconds, than they are to text or browse.
The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE..