Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


Cell Phone Use May Make Traffic Worse

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

How many times have you seen some boneheaded driver make a stupid move on the road, only to drive up beside them and see them yapping away on their cell phones? Too many times, I'll bet you. Now a new study shows that cell phone users also drive more slowly and make poor lane-change choices, which may slow down traffic overall up to 10%. From the LA Times:

Researchers at the University of Utah have found that motorists jabbering on cellphones drive more hesitantly than undistracted drivers and, as a result, are increasing everyone's average drive time by 5% to 10%. For someone with an hourlong commute each way, that translates into as much as 12 extra minutes behind the wheel each day, said psychologist David Strayer. Over the course of a year, the excess time in traffic could easily top 50 hours -- more than a typical week in the office.

Basically, drivers who aren't paying attention cause drivers around them to slow and stop more often, which sends a "shock wave" effect through the rest of traffic. Once everybody's stopped, it takes a lot longer to get up to a normal speed again, thus causing the "stop-and-go" conditions that send every single one of us into unhealthy fits of impotent rage. Using a cell phone while driving also quadruples your chance of getting in an accident -- hey, you might as well be driving drunk. The study did not indicate if driving with a Bluetooth or other hands-free equipment would affect driving conditions, or if text-messaging was equally dangerous. The lesson is pretty clear here, though -- if you want to get there faster, get off the phone and pay attention to the road.

Photo by andropolis via Flickr