Talking on the cellphone while driving isnâ€™t just a safety risk. It also slows down traffic.
Motorists talking on the phone drive about two miles per hour more slowly than people who arenâ€™t on the phone, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Utah. And while hands-free devices often are touted as safer alternatives, the scientists found that people using them also putter along, which suggests that itâ€™s the talking, not the cellphone, that distracts the brain.
While a few miles per hour may not sound like much, as many as one in 10 drivers on the road is talking on the phone, says University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer, who coauthored the research. Slower cellphone drivers may be increasing overall commuting times by 5 percent to 10 percent, he calculates, and talking on the phone may increase each daily commuterâ€™s travel time by 20 hours a year.