Above all, it found that attitude counts: People who still need convincing that using a mobile device behind the wheel raises their risk of a crash are more likely to engage in such behavior. Sixty-eight percent, in fact, said they needed more proof about the dangers of texting and driving.
The Australian researchers enlisted 447 drivers in filling out a questionnaire that was designed to analyze personality traits and driving behavior. Six scenarios were put to the respondents, based on real traffic and road conditions in South East Queensland. The respondents were then asked to rate the likely crash risk in those scenarios, their comfort driving through such conditions, and the likelihood of using their mobile phones to call or text.
The study — conducted by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland and published in Risk Analysis: An International Journal — comes as the evidence continues to pile up about the dangers of distracted driving.
People who text and drive, for example, are more than six times as likely to crash as those who don’t. The risk is more than two times as high for people talking on handheld devices, the study says. Yet observational studies have shown that nearly 19 percent of drivers in high-income countries such as Australia and the United States are on the phone while on the road — a figure that jumps to better than 31 percent in poorer countries.
The researchers urged additional research into the psychological and circumstantial factors that discourage most people from using mobile phones while driving. They also called for targeted law enforcement action against “high-risk groups,” such as new drivers.
The study can be found here.