Passengers, not just mobile phones, contribute to road accidents

May 22, 2007

New research by Australian scientists, soon to be published in the international Accident Analysis and Prevention journal, has shown that drivers carrying two or more passengers are twice as likely to crash as unaccompanied drivers.

The new study, by The George Institute for International Health, was designed to determine the risk of a crash associated with passenger carriage compared with that of using a mobile phone while driving. Both the carrying of passengers, and having a larger number of passengers in the car, are associated with an increased likelihood of a crash, though not to the same extent as mobile phone use.

Earlier studies at The George Institute found that a driver's use of a mobile phone was associated with a four-fold increase in the likelihood of crashing.

The study's lead investigator, Dr Suzanne McEvoy, says that "carrying passengers in the car has a number of potentially distracting effects that also occur with mobile phone use while driving. Moreover, carrying passengers may have additional effects on the driver, including peer influence."

"Drivers with passengers were almost 60% more likely to have a motor vehicle crash resulting in hospital attendance, irrespective of their age group. The likelihood of a crash was more than doubled in the presence of two or more passengers," noted Dr McEvoy.

The study did find, however, that the passenger-related risk is considerably lower than that associated with mobile phone use while driving. The George Institute's Professor Mark Stevenson, who also contributed to the study, suggested that "In contrast to mobile phone use, passengers, with some exceptions, are generally aware of the road conditions and can moderate their conversation as needed."

"However, although the risk associated with carrying passengers is lower than that associated with mobile phone use, it is likely to have a higher contribution to accidents because of the higher incidence of drivers taking passengers as opposed to using a mobile phone when driving," Professor Stevenson noted.

While the body of evidence is increasing in relation to the road safety risks associated with mobile phone use and passenger carriage, questions remain about how these factors impact on driving behaviours. That each contribute to driver distraction is irrefutable, however, passenger carriage by young drivers may have additional effects, as recent studies have indicated. These studies suggest that teenage passengers may increase the risk of crash for young drivers by multiple pathways, which include not only driver distraction but also peer influence.

Dr McEvoy also says that, "Further well-designed research is needed to investigate the factors underlying the increased risk for phone use and passenger carriage and the ways in which the risk can be reduced. Research of this kind can provide an excellent basis for examining road safety policy, with the opportunity to reduce both mobile phone-related and passenger-related crashes and injuries".

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Can science eliminate extreme poverty?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Uber meets local lookalikes in Asia taxi-app wars

Apr 14, 2014

Riding on its startup success and flush with fresh capital, taxi-hailing smartphone app Uber is making a big push into Asia. There's a twist, though: Instead of being the game-changing phenomena it was in ...

Why didn't missing jet passengers use their cellphones?

Mar 19, 2014

In the age of smartphones and social media, one question surrounding the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner is why none of the passengers tried to contact relatives, as they did during the 9/11 attacks.

If we'd used the cloud, we might know where MH370 is now

Mar 19, 2014

As the biggest ever hunt for a missing plane continues, many are beginning to wonder if we will ever know what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. If the plane has crashed, it has been suggested that ...

Lufthansa expands in-flight smartphone usage

Feb 13, 2014

Lufthansa, Germany's biggest airline, said Thursday it will allow passengers to use a range of mobile electronic devices in flight on all Airbus aircraft starting from next month.

Beijing issues rare air pollution alert

Feb 21, 2014

When the air gets really bad, Beijing says it has an emergency plan to yank half the city's cars off the road. The only problem is: It may be difficult to ever set that plan in motion.

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.