Regular MH readers are well aware of the potential dangers of using your mobile phone while driving, but some researchers in Utah say that people chatting while driving are also messing up traffic for everybody else. One of them characterizes the findings thusly:
“It’s a bit like breaking wind in the elevator. Everyone suffers,” Peter Martin of the University of Utah’s Traffic Lab said in a telephone interview.
The researchers’ study says that people talking on their phones drive more slowly and don’t change lanes as much as non-talkers. While that sounds like a good thing, the researchers are essentially saying talkers don’t drive as efficiently because they react more slowly to changes in speeds of other vehicles, and the distraction their phone conversations provide negate any safety benefits that driving more slowly could deliver.
I’m not particularly convinced by their argument, but I’m hard pressed to think of another similar study that’s been summarized in such a colorful way.