Mobile phone use while driving may be linked to other risky driving behaviors in young adults

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A new study by researchers from Philadelphia Children’s Hospital (CHOP) and the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that young people aged 18 to 24 who use cell phones while driving are more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors associated with ‘acting without thinking’, a form of impulsiveness. The results suggest the importance of developing new strategies to prevent unsafe driving in young adults, especially those with impulsive personalities.

The study was published in the International journal of environmental and public health research.

Mobile phone use while driving has been associated with an increased risk of accidents and near misses. Despite the ban on cell phone use while driving in many states, the results of accident reduction are inconsistent. One explanation may be that those who use cell phones while driving are more likely to engage in other intentionally risky behaviors. Instead of addressing only the use of cell phones while driving, the authors suggest training young drivers to avoid all risky behaviors associated with impulsivity and thrill seeking.

“This study found that frequent cell phone use while driving was only one indicator of a more general pattern of unsafe driving practices associated with previous crashes among young drivers,” says lead author of the study. Elizabeth Walshe, a researcher at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP and co-head of the CHOP research program in driving neurosciences. Walshe added, a former postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC): “Assessing personality traits, such as impulsivity and sensation seeking, can be helpful in identifying the most at-risk drivers in order to provide more targeted interventions that promote safe driving. “

The study was co-authored by Flaura K. Winston, Founder and Scientific Director of CIRP and Distinguished Researcher of APPC, and Director of Research of APPC Dan Romer, Ph.D.

Read more at Annenberg Center for Public Policy.


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