Using a mobile phone for something other than voice calls while behind the wheel can lead to significant impairment of driving ability, as a recent IAM study and Belgian learner driver campaign both clearly illustrated.

A similar study has just been published in the US and while its findings don’t tell us anything we don’t’ already know, it does contain some frightening figures.

CQ Researcher’s “Distracted Driving: Should driver texting and cellphone use be banned?” report found that drivers took their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds while using a mobile phone for text messaging. That’s sufficient time for a vehicle to travel 157 yards (144m) when driving at 70mph.

However, CQ Researcher also points out that mobile phones are just one of many potential driver distractions and it also cites such things as messing with the car radio, putting on makeup and smoking as posing similar risks.

CQ Researcher also quotes anecdotal evidence published by the Washington Post about distracted drivers spotted by its readers, which apparently included:

  • A man driving at highway speed with a can of beer in one hand and a fried chicken leg in the other
  • A driver scratching off lottery tickets
  • A woman knitting, steering with her elbows
  • A driver holding a cellphone in one hand and taking pictures of other cars with a camera in the other hand while driving at 70 mph
  • A driver looking through a camcorder viewfinder videotaping nearby monuments
  • A truck driver sharing a bag of sunflower seeds with a blue-and-gold macaw perched on the steering wheel