New phones “cause more accidents”

Contrary to what what you might think, it isn't safer to talk and drive if you use the new hands-free mobile phones. In fact, it is more dangerous, reported Svenska Dagbladet on Thursday.

The Ministry of Transport’s Research Institute has carried out tests to establish what happens when people “talk and drive”. By carrying out a mobile phone risk assessment they have found that it is the conversation itself – and the “complexity” of it – that affects the way people drive.

Drivers who talk while driving suffer tunnel vision, can’t drive in a straight line and take longer to hit the brakes, according to the results from experiments in a simulator.

Researchers applied “virtual city traffic” as well as countryside roads and during the conversation the drivers were subjected to different obstacles. Those who used handheld phones said they were strongly aware of not being in control of the vehicle and tended to slow down to compensate.

Those using the hands-free phones in the tests drove equally as badly. But the critical difference was that they believed they were in control. It is this false sense of security that researchers believed to be so dangerous.

Despite the results researchers did not call for the use of mobile phones while driving to be banned, as it was in the United Kingdom last year. But Anne Bolling, who led the project, told SvD that the problem would only get worse.

“It’s dangerous when you consider what kinds of phones are coming now, with moving pictures,” she said. “That’s the next thing we’re going to have to look at, because people are going to want to look at the person they’re talking to.”