Driving is a complex task and requires full concentration at all times. Drivers who divide their attention are significantly increasing their risk of causing a devastating crash. Use this page to access research on key distraction risks, including mobile phones, and measures to tackle this risk.
The science of distracted driving: the impact of mobile phones on brain chemistry
CNN, USA, 06/08/2016
Drive safe report
Transport Research Laboratory, UK, 23/06/2016
Why drivers use cell phones and support legislation to restrict this practice
Department of Psychology, University of Utah, USA, 29/03/2016
Many drivers are hypocritical when it comes to distracted driving, using mobile phones behind the wheel while supporting legislation to restrict the practice.
Injury prevention programs against distracted driving among students
Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 07/03/2016
A distracted-driving awareness campaign with repeated boosters may decrease the prevalence of distracted driving among university students.
Driving performance while using a mobile phone: A simulation study of Greek professional drivers
Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Greece, 26/02/2016
Increased variations in steering and lateral lane position were evident during mobile phone use (texting and reading text messages) in a study of professional drivers in Greece.
Self-reported engagement in driver distraction: An application of the Theory of Planned Behaviour
University of Toronto, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Canada, 26/02/2016
Drivers may be more influenced by the actions of other drivers, rather than by knowing the right thing to do, when it comes to engaging in distractions.
Imagery-inducing distraction leads to cognitive tunnelling and deteriorated driving performance
The Open University, UK, 13/02/2016
Telephone conversations may interfere with driving performance because the two tasks compete for similar cognitive image-processing resources.
Driver crash risk factors and prevalence evaluation using naturalistic driving data
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 26/01/2016
The first large-scale analysis of naturalistic driving crash data definitively shows that handheld electronic devices are detrimental to driver safety.
Driving while using a smartphone-based mobility application: Evaluating the impact of three multi-choice user interfaces on visual-manual distraction
Université du Luxembourg, 12/01/2016
Scrolling and using slider widgets on a smartphone both generate a high visual-manual distraction.
A field study on the effects of digital billboards on glance behavior during highway driving
New England University Transportation Center & MIT AgeLab, USA, 30/12/2015
Drivers glanced away from the road more often and for longer when digital billboards were present on highways, particularly when the billboards transitioned between advertisements.
New report confirms dangers of ‘multi-tasking’ while driving
Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), UK, 20/11/2015
Texting and talking on a mobile phone are the most dangerous in-vehicle distractions when driving.
RAC calls for more action to tackle mobile phone offenders
RAC, UK, 19/10/2015
There is a growing gulf between mobile use behind the wheel and prosecutions.
Prevalence of texting while driving and other risky driving behaviors among young people in Ontario, Canada: Evidence from 2012 and 2014
University of Regina, Canada, 10/09/2015
Young people who text while driving are also more likely to speed.
Distracted driving policies: What does the research show?
Center for Mississippi Health Policy, 3/11/2015
A ban on phone use at the wheel would have saved 95 lives, and $75 million in medical costs, between 2008 and 2012 in Mississippi.
Real-world effects of using a phone while driving on lateral and longitudinal control of vehicles
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, 14/10/2015
In a real-world study of mobile phone use behind the wheel, younger drivers used their phone more behind the wheel than older drivers, and left smaller safety margins.
Texting while driving as impulsive choice: A behavioral economic analysis
Pennsylvania State University, USA, Oct 2015
Drivers who text behind the wheel are more likely to be impulsive individuals, and understanding this could lead to ways of preventing texting and driving in future
Distracted driving impairs police patrol officer driving performance
Washington State University, 17/09/2015
The use of text-based computer systems behind the wheel increases the collision risk of police officers, even those with extensive experience of using such systems.
Distraction produces over-additive increases in the degree to which alcohol impairs driving performance
Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, USA, 9/09/2015
For drivers who have drunk alcohol, distractions more than double the effect that alcohol has on their driving.
Eyes on the road: A review of literature and an in-car study of driving whilst navigating
RAC Foundation, Sept 2015
Designers of wearable technology, whether it is specifically designed to be used in vehicles or not, should consider the risks of distraction when driving.
Who's putting your life on the line? For a quarter of drivers, it's family
Brake, the road safety charity, 28/08/2015
A Brake/Direct Line survey finds that a quarter of drivers surveyed had spoken on the phone to a family member in the past year while driving.
Psychological predictors of texting while driving among university students
University of Girona, Spain, 26/08/2015
Young people’s attitudes and intention to text and drive in Spain, where it is illegal, are an important factor in determining whether they do it.
Distracted driving among college students: perceived risk versus reality
Department of Psychology, Elmira College, USA, 21/08/2015
College student drivers in the US are aware that texting while driving is dangerous, yet they still see it as acceptable behaviour.
Do as I say, not as I do: Distracted driving behavior of teens and their parents
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, USA, 29/07/2015
Young drivers involvement in distracted behaviours while driving are influenced by their parents’ example.
Distracted driving behaviors related to cell phone use among middle-aged adults
University of San Diego, 10/06/2015
Middle-aged drivers are more likely to use a phone at the wheel if they are required to do so for work, or have the belief that it will not affect their driving ability.
Will smartwatches lure drivers to more distractions?
The National Safety Council, USA, 21/05/2015
Smart watches could be even more distracting that mobile phones.
Safety climate and the distracted driving experiences of truck drivers
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 05/05/2015
Road safety policies, procedures and communications reduce distraction-related crashes among truck drivers.
The impact of texting bans on motor vehicle crash-related hospitalizations
Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health, 01/05/2015
Banning texting while driving is associated with a reduction in hospital admissions.
Outsmarting smartphones: Technology reduces distracted driving among teens
Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, USA, 27/4/2015
Devices to block phone usage and in-car cameras reduce teenage drivers’ use of mobile phones.
Investigating evidence of mobile phone usage by drivers in road traffic accidents
Northumbria University, 6/4/2015
The forensic examination of phones following a crash could discover whether a phone was being used on the Internet, not only for calls, prior to a crash.
Video study shows distracted teenage drivers much worse than thought
AAA Foundation, 25/3/2015
Video evidence reveals that young drivers were distracted by phones in 12% of young driver crashes in the US, far higher than official figures.
Understanding commercial truck drivers’ decision-making process concerning distracted driving
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA, 27/2/2015
The importance of supervisors enforcing company policies on distracted driving is described.
Seat belt and mobile phone use surveys: England and Scotland, 2014
Department for Transport, 25/2/2015
In 2014, 1.6% of drivers in England and Scotland were observed using a mobile phone at the wheel, with using it in the hand more common than held to the ear.
The restless mind while driving: drivers’ thoughts behind the wheel
University of Toulouse, USA, 16/2/2015
Drivers can spend a third of a journey with their mind wandering.
Frequency and impact of hands-free telephoning while driving – Results from naturalistic driving data
WIVW GmbH, Germany, 20/01/2015
Drivers spend on average 11% of their journeys on hands-free calls.
More than one in seven (15%) of UK drivers admit making dangerous manoeuvres to correct mistakes when following sat-nav instructions.
Understanding commercial truck drivers’ decision-makin process concerning distracted driving
Comparing a driving simulator to the real road regarding distracted driving speed, 01/01/2015
Research on distracted driving in a driving simulator is valid.
Investigating the protracted effect of cell phone use on distracted driving
Transportation Research Board, 30/12/2014
The distraction, and crash risk, of sending a text lingers even after the text has been sent.
Associations of distraction involvement and age with driver injury severities
University of Toronto, 24/12/2014
Young drivers who are involved in a crash are more likely to suffer serious injuries if they are distracted, such as by mobile phones.
Drivers’ phone use at red traffic lights: A roadside observation study comparing calls and visual–manual interactions
the University of Lyon, France, 19/10/2014
Drivers using mobile phones for calls or texts at red lights show decreased situational awareness.
An observational study of driving distractions on urban roads in Spain
University of Girona, Spain, 14/10/2014
One in five (20%) urban drivers in Spain was observed undertaking secondary tasks at the wheel, with young drivers most likely to be using technology.
Measuring cognitive distraction in the automobile II: assessing in-vehicle voice-based interactive technologies
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 01/10/2014
Using voice-based commands to operate mobile phones causes significant distraction so is not a safe alternative to hand-held phone use.
Driving while texting with Google Glass as distracting as phone
University of Central Florida, 25/09/2014
Texting using the hands-free functions on wearable computers such as Google Glass is just as distracting to drivers as writing a text on a smartphone.
Deep in thought while driving: An EEG study on drivers’ cognitive distraction
Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Malaysia, 02/09/2014
A study using brain scans confirms that distracted drivers have impaired judgment as well as poor driving performance.
A looming crisis the distribution of off-road glance duration in moments leading up to crashes/near-crashes in naturalistic driving
Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, 01/09/2014
Glances away from the road of 1.7 seconds or more are a significant risk to safe driving.
Prevalence of and attitudes about distracted driving in college students
University of California, 18/08/2014
91% of US university students admit making phone calls or texting at the wheel.
Parents drive kids to distraction
American Psychological Association, 08/08/2014
More than half (53%) of teenage drivers in the US who admit using mobile phones at the wheel say they are most likely to be talking to their parents.
Parents admit to engaging in the same dangerous driving behaviors they warn their children against
Liberty Mutual Insurance, 07/08/2014
83% of US teenagers say their parents engage in unsafe behaviour when driving them, the most common being talking on a mobile phone (86%).
One in four have taken driving selfies
One in four (25%) 18-24 year-olds in Europe has taken a photo of themselves with their phone while driving.
Pedestrian crash analysis
Mid-America Regional Council, 06/06/2014
36% of drivers who hit pedestrians in Kansas City between 2008 and 2012 were using a mobile phone at the time.
Potential distractions and unsafe driving behaviors among drivers of 1- to 12-year-old children
University of Michigan, 24/04/2014
More than 75% of drivers involved in injury crashes while carrying a child passenger admitted to using a phone at the wheel within the last month.
Risky hands-free calls at the wheel on the rise
Brake and Direct Line, 22/04/2014
Almost half (45%) of UK drivers admit to using a hand-held or hands-free phone at the wheel.
Distracted driver behaviors and distracting conditions among adolescent drivers
University of North Carolina, 17/04/2014
Teenage drivers are six times more likely to have a serious incident when there is loud conversation in the vehicle, and three times more likely when passengers are ‘horsing around’.
Smartphone, dumb drivers
7% of UK drivers have taken photos with mobile phone cameras while driving.
Drivers urged to take time out to enjoy their lunch
Brake and Direct Line, 20/02/2014
Six in 10 UK drivers (62%) admit eating at the wheel.
Distracted driving and risk of road crashes among novice and experienced drivers
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 02/01/2014
US drivers are distracted by tasks including eating and using a phone for 10% of the time they are driving.
Teens report texting or using phone while driving significantly less often than adults
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 11/12/2013
43% of US adults aged 25-39 regularly use mobile phones at the wheel.
Stopping behaviour of drivers distracted by mobile phone conversations
Queensland University of Technology, 03/12/2013
Drivers talking on mobile phones brake more sharply in response to hazards, increasing the risk of rear-end collisions.
Distracted driving and perceptions of hands-free technologies
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 30/11/2013
67% of US drivers say that using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel is unacceptable, yet admit to having done so the previous month.
Voice-operated in-vehicle devices do not prevent visual distractions
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 18/11/2013
Voice-operated in-vehicle devices do not prevent visual distractions as drivers continue to look at them when driving.
Banning hands-free mobile phones among teen drivers reduced teen driver fatal crashes
University of Nebraska Medical Center, 04/10/2013
Banning hands-free mobile phones among teen drivers in California reduced teen driver fatal crashes by a third in the year after introduction.
Reaction times of drivers distracted by mobile phone conversations
Queensland University of Technology, 21/09/2013
Young drivers’ reaction times increase by 40% when talking on a hands-free or hand-held mobile phone.
Anti-texting adverts should focus on death and dying
Washington State University, 12/09/2013
Adverts with strong emotional references to death and dying are effective in convincing young drivers not to text and drive
Listening and responding to questions harms drivers’ ability to focus
University of Toronto, 15/08/2013
Listening and responding to questions harms drivers’ ability to focus, suggesting there are risks in using voice-operated in-vehicle technology.
Cruise control may cause drivers to be less attentive and more susceptible to fatigue
VINCI Autoroutes Foundation, 30/07/2013
Cruise control may cause drivers to be less attentive and more susceptible to fatigue so should be used with caution.
11 US States and Washington DC have banned hands-free phone use at the wheel
Governors Highway Safety Association, 17/07/2013
11 US States and Washington DC have banned hands-free phone use at the wheel.
Anti-texting campaigns should focus on changing habits
University of Michigan, 12/07/2013
Texting drivers are aware of the risks, so anti-texting campaigns should focus on changing habits rather than highlighting the dangers.
55% of British people acknowledge that using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous
British Social Attitudes survey, 04/07/2013
55% of British people acknowledge that using a hand-held or hands-free phone while driving is dangerous.
80% of young novice drivers in the USA make or receive phone calls while driving
National Institutes of Health, 20/06/2013
80% of young novice drivers in the USA make or receive phone calls while driving and 72% text.
Speech-to-text systems distract drivers more than talking on a mobile phone
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 12/06/2013
Speech-to-text systems that enable drivers to send email and text messages are more distracting than talking on a hand-held or hands-free phone.
12% of red-light violations at intersections across the USA are caused by distraction
National Coalition for Safer Roads, 06/06/2013
12% of red-light violations at intersections across the USA are caused by driver distraction.
Drivers pay less attention on familiar routes
Simon Fraser University, 03/05/2013
Drivers pay less attention and take longer to respond to emergencies when driving on familiar routes.
Driver hazard response time nearly doubles when texting, including hands-free
Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 30/04/2013
Driver hazard response time is nearly doubled when sending a text message, whether using a hands-free method or typing a text.
Pedestrian injuries due to mobile phone distractions on the rise in the USA
Ohio State University, 03/04/2013
Serious road or trip injuries to US pedestrians distracted by using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2004 and 2010.
Phone conversations distract younger and older drivers more than middle-aged drivers
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 01/04/2013
Phone conversations distract younger and older drivers more than middle-aged drivers, and younger drivers answer calls even in difficult driving conditions.
Speaking on a hands-free phone while driving makes you less alert and less attentive
University of Toronto, 28/02/2013
Brain scanning has confirmed that speaking on a hands-free phone while driving makes you less alert and less visually attentive.
A vibrating accelerator pedal reduces fuel consumption with minimal driver distraction
University of Warwick, 19/02/2013
An accelerator pedal that vibrates if the driver accelerates too much reduces fuel consumption with minimal distraction.
Drivers spend nearly a fifth of time at the wheel with their eyes off the road
Direct Line, 25/01/2013
An eye-tracking study shows that drivers spend nearly a fifth of their time at the wheel with their eyes off the road, looking at the sky, scenery, sat-navs or adverts.
Roadside adverts should be designed and placed to minimise distraction
Roadside adverts should be kept simple and placed in areas that allow drivers to see them without looking away from the road to minimise distraction.
Listening and reacting to speech slows drivers’ braking responses
University of Padova, 21/01/2013
Listening and reacting to speech slows drivers’ braking responses, raising concerns about satellite navigation systems and warning systems as well as confirming the danger of hands-free phones.
Texting is more distracting than drink-driving
Texting while driving increases reaction times by 79%.
Influence of personal mobile phone ringing and usual intention to answer on driver error
Aston University, 20/09/2012
A ringing mobile phone in the vehicle causes significant driver distraction and increases crash risk.
The influence of music on mental effort and driving performance
University of Groningen, 19/09/2012
Listening to music has no effect on driving ability.
Self-reported and observed risky driving behaviors among frequent and infrequent cell phone users
New England University Transportation Center, 08/08/2012
Drivers who often use mobile phones while driving are more likely to take other risks including speeding and overtaking dangerously.
A simulator study of the effects of singing on driving performance
Monash University, 08/08/2012
Singing impairs driver ability to detect hazards.
Advertising billboards impair change detection in road scenes
Monash University, 25/07/2012
Roadside advertising can impair drivers ability to notice hazards and road signs.
Can sat navs reduce drivers' performance?
Royal Holloway University of London, 20/06/2012
Using satellite navigation can increase driver speed and reduce observation.
Smartphone apps creating more distraction for young drivers on the road
58% of 17-25 year olds believe smartphone apps are a distraction for young drivers.
MP3 song searching can increase risk for drivers
Journal of the human factors and ergonomics society, 04/05/2012
Using an ipod causes drivers to look away from the road longer than when using a radio.
Vibrating steering wheel guides drivers while keeping their eyes on the road
Carneige Mellon University, 04/05/2012
Touch sensitive feedback through the steering wheel is an effective way for sat-navs to direct a driver without distracting them from the road.
Most licensed teen drivers still text while driving
State Farm, 24/04/2012
57% of teen drivers in the USA admit to texting while driving.
Driving with one hand on the wheel - a fatal distraction
The University of Leeds, 23/04/2012
Reaction times increase by 44% when eating at the wheel.
Distraction in traffic: an increasing risk factor
SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research, 23/04/2012
Drivers are engaged in distracting activities for 25-30% of their driving time.
Distracted driving among newly licenced teen drivers
AAA Foundation, 05/04/2012
Teenage girls are twice as likely to text or call at the wheel as teenage males.
The message isn’t getting through: nearly half of drivers risk lives for a phone call
Almost half of young drivers in the UK admit texting at the wheel.
Mobile social networking or messaging while driving slows reaction times by almost 40%
Institute of Advanced Motorists, 02/03/2012
Using a phone for social networking or messaging slows driver reaction times by almost 40%.
The role of driver distraction in run-off-road crashes
SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research, 14/02/2012
Driver distraction is a factor in almost 20% of run-off-road crashes.
Attitudes to whether mobile phone use impairs driving performance
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 24/01/2012
More than 50% of drivers in the USA think handheld phones don’t impair their driving performance but 90% feel ‘very unsafe’ as the passenger of someone using a handheld phone.
Distracted driving crashes in the USA
Governors Highway Safety Association, 02/12/2011
Distracted driving plays a part in 15-30% of crashes in the USA.
Extent of mobile and smart phone use while driving
Brake and Direct Line, 03/10/2011
Three in 10 (28%) UK drivers text and one in 11 (9%) surfs the web when driving.
Four high-visibility enforcement demonstration waves in Connecticut and New York
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 11/07/2011
Hand-held phone use while driving reduced dramatically in two US towns during a trial of highly visible enforcement campaigns combined with strong enforcement based media communications.
Mobile phone use: a growing problem of driver distraction
World Health Organisation, 18/04/2011
Laws banning the use of hand-held mobile phones alone may mislead the public into thinking that hands-free phones are safe.
Voice-based navigation is a safer way to get around
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 18/04/2011
Voice based in-vehicle navigation is safer than display or combination navigation devices or paper maps.
The influence of Cruise Control and Adaptive Cruise Control on driving behaviour
Technical University Braunschweig, 04/04/2011
Some cruise control devices can reduce concentration and delay driver reactions.
Use of media devices by cyclists and pedestrians
SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research, 14/01/2011
Texting, calling or listening to music while cycling increases crash risk by 40%.
Commercial fleet: Distracted driving research 2010
SmartDrive Systems Inc, 14/01/2011
Distracted drivers are more than seven times as likely to be in a crash or near miss.
Effects of advertising billboards during simulated driving
Monash University Accident Research Centre, 08/10/2010
Advertising billboards increase the time required for drivers to respond to road signs and contribute to the frequency of driver errors.
Research supports cellphone free driving
University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, 08/10/2010
Banning drivers from using hand-held and hands-free mobile phones would save lives, reduce injuries and save CA$36 million in Alberta, Canada.
Cell phone use while driving and attributable crash risk
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 08/10/2010
Restricting mobile phones usage whilst driving could have prevented an estimated 1.3 million crashes in the US during 2008.
Trends in fatalities from distracted driving in the United States, 1999 to 2008
University of North Texas Health Science Center, 08/10/2010
In the US, there has been a 28% rise in distracted driving deaths between 2005 and 2008.
The effects of text messaging on young drivers
Monash University Accident Research Centre, 01/09/2010
Previous research has shown that the risk of crashing while dialing a handheld device, such as when text messaging and driving, is more than double that of conversing on a mobile phone.
Cell-phone bans while driving have more impact in dense, urban areas
University of Illinois - Department of computer science, 02/08/2010
Hand-held mobile phone bans reduce crash rates more effectively in densely populated urban areas than in rural areas.
RAC report on motoring 2010 – the driver’s perspective
Drunk or drugged drivers, mobile phone usage and uninsured drivers are a big concern on the roads for over 95% of drivers.
Adults and cell phone distractions
Pew Research Center, 16/07/2010
American adults are just as likely as teenagers to text behind the wheel and are much more likely to have talked on the phone while driving.
Investigating driver distraction: the effects of video and static advertising
Transport Research Laboratory, 12/05/2010
Roadside advertising increases driver distraction and crash risk.
Supertaskers: profiles in extraordinary multi-tasking ability
The University of Utah, 01/04/2010
Driving performance is dramatically impaired when using a hands-free mobile phone for 97.5% of drivers.
London mobile phone and seat belt survey 2009
Transport Research Laboratory, UK, 14/02/2010
Handheld mobile phone use in London has risen despite tougher penalties introduced two years ago.
Seatbelt and mobile phone use surveys: 2009 results
Department for Transport, 14/02/2010
Observed use of hands-free phones in England while driving increased 148% from 2008-9, while hand-held phone use also rose.
Handheld cell phone laws and collision claim frequencies
Highway Loss Data Institute, 29/01/2010
Laws that only ban hand-held phones may not reduce crashes because drivers switch to hands-free phones, which are also distracting.
A decrease in brain activation associated with driving when listening to someone speak
The Centre for Cognitive Brain Imaging, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania, USA, 14/09/2009
Listening to someone talking distracts drivers even when they are not holding or dialling a phone. Brain activity associated with judging space and distance fell by 37%.
Distractive effects of cell phone use - report 349
NZTA, NZ, 01/08/2008
Mobile phone conversations are much more distracting than conversations with passengers. Drivers talking on a phone often fail to take any action to reduce their speed approaching hazards.
Meal at wheel drivers running crash risk
Brake and Green Flag Motoring Assistance, UK, 13/03/2008
One in seven people who drives for work (15%) risk crashing by eating a meal at least once a week while driving. This is far higher than other drivers, with only one in 25 (4%) admitting the same.
Assessing the awareness of performance decrements in distracted drivers
Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, 02/10/2007
Drivers are not able to correctly esitmate the level of distraction they are suffering from when drivng.
Mitigating driver distraction with retrospective and concurrent feedback
University of Iowa, 02/10/2007
Combined feedback (real time as well as post-drive) holds the most promise for mitigating the effects of distraction from in-vehicle information systems and helping the driver to learn safe driving.
Statistical analysis of “looked-but-failed-to-see” accidents
University of Provence, 23/08/2007
When a failure arose at the perceptual stage, drivers actually never saw the danger while they were going straight at a junction or turning left to park their car.
Using a hands-free mobile whilst driving can be more dangerous than drink driving
Transport Research Laboratory, 12/02/2007
Driver reaction times have been found to be 30% slower while using a hands-free phone than driving with a blood alcohol level of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood.
Driver distraction: a review of the literature
Monash University Accident Research Centre, Australia, 01/01/2003
Review of research on driver distractions within the vehicle.
Understanding passenger influences on driver behaviour
Monash University Accident Research Centre, Australia, 01/01/2001
Explores ways that passengers influence, positively and negatively, the safety of the driver.