Mobile phones can put pressure on drivers even when they are not in use, according to new research.
In a new study by the University of Washington, scientists evaluated the extent to which drivers can be distracted by their mobile phone even when it is not in use, in an effort to understand whether compulsive mobile usage among young people might contribute to road accidents.
Researchers used an instrument to assess 24 aspects of driver awareness and compared results to four ways in which mobile phones can be dangerous: frequent anticipation of calls or messages, emotional reactions to the phone, recognizing problem use and interference with normal activities.
After comparison to an anonymous online survey, researchers established that there is a positive correlation between the amount of distraction a person feels their phone exerts on them and the number of crashes they have been involved in.
Commenting on the research, PhD student Jennifer Whitehill said: "This study suggests that thinking about future cell phone calls and messages may be an additional source of distraction that could contribute to crashes."
Drivers are reminded that other road users driving while using a mobile phone remain a major risk, and a good reason for motorists to arrange adequate roadside recovery cover on a regular basis.
Copyright Press Association 2012