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Cellphone use may be higher among women drivers

The use of hand-held cellphones, computers and other electronic communications devices by drivers is prohibited in Illinois, but accident statistics suggest that motorists in the state often ignore this law. A team of Australian researchers wanted to find out why so many drivers use cellphones while behind the wheel despite research revealing that doing so can greatly increases their chances of being involved in an accident, and they found that women and inexperienced drivers are particularly prone to this kind of behavior.

Researchers from the Australia Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland reached this conclusion after polling 447 drivers. They also discovered that public information campaigns drawing attention to the dangers of distracted driving may not be having the desired effect. Almost three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they were unconvinced by these messages and only compelling new evidence would change their minds. The findings were published in the international journal Society for Risk Analysis.

The study is likely to make sobering reading for both lawmakers and road safety advocates. Motor vehicle accident fatalities have increased alarmingly in recent years, and the figures suggest that mobile phone use is a factor in about a quarter of all crashes. The problem is likely to worsen in the years ahead as texting becomes a more common form of communication. Researchers have found that typing and sending text messages while behind the wheel increases the chances of being involved in an accident more than six times.

Distracted drivers are rarely eager to admit that they were texting when they crashed, but using smartphones leaves an electronic trail that could be used by experienced personal injury attorneys to establish negligence in motor vehicle accident lawsuits. When this information cannot be found in official accident reports, attorneys may seek to obtain it from wireless service providers.

Source: The Illinois General Assembly, Section 12-610.2. Electronic Communication Devices