Motorists on the phone lead to traffic headaches, delays for other


Washington : Drivers get off the cell phone, a new study links traffic congestion to sluggish driving behavior of mobile phone users behind the wheel.

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The study conducted by the University of Utah also found people talking on the phone drive slower on freeways, are less likely to pass slow-moving vehicles, change lanes, and have longer commutes.

Using a driving simulator, participants were seated in the front seat of a Ford Crown Victoria patrol car and given realistic traffic scenes to maneuver while talking on a hands-free phone. They were instructed to follow the 65 mile-per-hour speed limit and use signals during the simulation, but follow distance and lane changes at their own discretion.

The study’s results showed that not only does it take drivers longer to get from point A to point B, cell phone drivers also slow everyone else down on the road, and are more than five times as likely to get into a car accident, according to the study’s researchers.

“At the end of the day, the average person’s commute is longer because of that person who is on the cell phone right in front of them. That jerk on the cell phone is slowing you down and making you late,” said Professor Dave Strayer, lead author of the study.

Earlier studies have shown wireless or hands-free mobile devices are no less dangerous as hand-held devices because drivers are most distracted by the conversation, similar to that of drunk drivers.

In more than 50 countries, laws have been passed to prohibit the use of handheld cell phones behind the wheel.

The study’s researchers will present the full extent of the findings January 16, to the US Transportation Research Board in Washington DC.