Study Finds Pattern in Drivers Who Ignore Cellphone Laws

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A survey has found that drivers of 4x4 motor cars in London are four times as likely to drive while using a cellphone without a hands free kit than drivers of other motor vehicles. They are also more likely to ignore laws requiring occupants to wear a seatbelt. The survey was conducted by three researchers based at Imperial College and was designed specifically to seek out any patterns in driving habits between 4x4 owners and normal car drivers.

The observational study was conducted with two phases--one within the three month "grace" period following legislation forcing drivers to use hands-free kits, the other starting one week after penalties were imposed on drivers using such telephones. During the grace period, drivers were only cautioned if caught breaking the new law.

A total of 38,182 normal cars and 2,944 four wheel drive vehicles were watched during the survey, which was conducted at three spots in London, UK.

The survey results found that drivers of four wheel drive vehicles were more likely than drivers of other cars to be seen using hand held mobile phones (8.2% v 2.0%) and not complying with the law on seat belts (19.5% v 15.0%). Levels of non-compliance with both laws were slightly higher in the penalty phase of observation, and breaking one law was associated with increased likelihood of breaking the other.

The survey was limited to private passenger vehicles; they excluded taxis, buses, vans, and trucks. Anecdotal evidence does suggest however, that the so called "white van man" - a driver of small delivery vans in London is probably even more likely to ignore such laws than passenger vehicle drivers.

The report concluded that drivers of four wheel drive vehicles were more likely than drivers of cars to break both driving related laws, consistent with the theory of risk compensation. Although four wheel drive vehicles are safer in a crash, their owners may be placing themselves and other road users at increased risk of injury.

You can download the full report from the British Medical Journal."

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Tags: hands-free  london 

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