Driver mobile phone use: Results from an observational survey
Research indicates that mobile phone use while driving can impair a number of safety critical factors including reaction time, hazard perception, gaze shifting and vehicle control and is also associated with an increase in crash risk of up to four times. Given the serious implications for road safety and the rate of increase in mobile phone technology, it is important to conduct regular surveys of mobile phone use among drivers on our roads. An on-road observational survey of hand-held mobile phone use was undertaken in 2009 as part of a larger restraint use survey. The survey was conducted at 61 sites in metropolitan Adelaide and five rural regions. Results indicated that 0.56% of drivers observed during the survey were using hand-held phones. Hand-held phone usage rates ranged from 0.75% in metropolitan Adelaide to 0.34% in the Riverland. The rate for metropolitan Adelaide was slightly lower than a comparable mobile phone observational survey conducted in Melbourne during 2009. Of all the characteristics examined, the only statistically significant difference in hand-held phone usage was for the number of vehicle occupants. The odds of drivers using a hand-held phone while travelling alone were over four times higher than for drivers travelling with passengers. It is recommended that similar surveys should be undertaken regularly in South Australia to monitor trends in mobile phone usage over time.