The Effect of Cellular Phone Use Upon Driver Attention

Accid Anal Prev. 1993 Jun;25(3):259-65. doi: 10.1016/0001-4575(93)90020-w.


In this study, 150 subjects observed a 25-minute video driving sequence containing 45 highway traffic situations to which they were expected to respond by manipulation of simulated vehicle controls. Each situation occurred under five conditions of distraction: placing a cellular phone call, carrying on a causal cellular phone conversation, carrying on an intense cellular phone conversation, tuning a radio, and no distraction. All of the distractions led to significant increases in the proportion of situations to which subjects failed to respond. However, significant age differences of nonresponse appeared. Among subjects over age 50, nonresponses increased by about one-third under all of the telephone distractions. The response rate of younger subjects increased by a lesser degree except under intense conversation. Results were not influenced by gender or prior experience with cellular phones. The authors conclude that older drivers might reduce their accident risk during attention-demanding traffic conditions by avoiding use of cellular phones and that other drivers might do so by refraining from calls involving intense conversation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention*
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Telephone*