Mobile Phone Use and Engagement in Other Distracting Activities: An Observational Survey of Melbourne Drivers
This study aimed to quantify Melbourne drivers’ use of hand-held and hands-free mobile phones, as well as their engagement in a range of other non-driving activities that are associated with increased crash risk. The study also aimed to identify the driver, vehicle and location characteristics that are associated with engagement in these activities. A total of 18 roadside observations were conducted at three sites (two suburban and one central business district; CBD) within metropolitan Melbourne during May 2009. Results revealed that 3.4% of the observed drivers were using hand-held phones (including 1.5% who were text messaging), compared to 1.4% who were using hands-free. Driver engagement in non-driving activities other than mobile phone use was prevalent, particularly interaction with passengers (20.4% of drivers observed). Driver engagement in potentially distracting activities was found to be associated with a range of driver, vehicle and location characteristics. In particular, hand-held phone users were predominately young or middle aged drivers who drove cars or 4WDs, and their phone use was more likely to take place in the evening, rather than during the day. In contrast, drivers were more likely to be observed interacting with passengers if they were male, aged over 50 years, and driving a car or 4WD in the afternoon peak period during the week or on the weekend.