How many times do young drivers actually touch their smartphone screens while driving?

How many times do young drivers actually touch their smartphone screens while driving?

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Smartphone usage while driving, and particularly texting, poses a major concern for road safety. The goal of this study is to suggest a novel and objective means to measure the smartphone usage among young drivers. A naturalistic study was conducted with 254 Israeli young drivers who installed a research-oriented smartphone app which continuously monitors smartphones usage while driving. The app captures the actual number of times drivers are ‘touching’ their smartphone screens, the speed at which these screen-touches occur, foreground apps and time stamps. The results, which are based on 3304 h of driving performed in 11,528 trips, indicate that young drivers touch their smartphone screen on average 1.6 times per minute of driving. Alarmingly, more than half of the screen-touches are performed while the vehicle is in motion, and some touches occur even at speeds higher than 100 km/h. The screen-touches occur throughout the trip regardless of its duration. Approximately half of them are performed while using WhatsApp, a popular free messaging app. These findings provide objective evidence to the actual and intensive usage of smartphones. While comparing these results to participants' self-reports, it was found that young drivers clearly underestimate their smartphone usage while driving.


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