Many drivers need ‘a lot of convincing’ to put down the phone

Many drivers think texting and driving is dangerous only in certain circumstances, and most still need “a lot of convincing” to understand the risks, according to a recent study from Australia.
   Researchers from Australia Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland surveyed 296 female drivers and 151 male drivers on their perceptions of their driving ability, comfort and difficulty; crash risks; and likelihood of talking on a cellphone and texting.
   Sixty-eight percent of participants said they need a lot of convincing to believe in the dangers of texting and driving, according to a July 9 press release from the Society for Risk Analysis. Frequent phone users and drivers with less favorable attitudes toward safety and with fewer inhibitions reported “stronger intentions of engaging in mobile phone multitasking,” the study abstract states, while more experienced drivers were less likely to be distracted while driving. Results also showed that females are more likely than males to engage in cellphone use while driving.
   Phone use is a factor in about 25 percent of U.S. vehicle crashes, according to SRA, which added that talking on a phone increases crash risk by 2.2 times and texting raises it by 6.1 times.
   Participants said police presence and demanding traffic conditions played a role in limiting their phone use behind the wheel. “The results from this study may contribute to more targeted distracted driving campaigns by highlighting opportunities for interventions,” the press release states. “These campaigns should target safety attitudes to more effectively curb drivers’ motivations for engaging with their phones while driving. This study also confirmed the need to profile and target high-risk groups, particularly novice drivers and those who are overly attached to their phones, to develop messaging that considers their particular motivating factors.”