Cell phone distractions hit new levels with drivers

When most of us think about cell phone distractions in cars, we are all probably guilty of assuming that they're only a problem if we pick them up and take our eyes off the road. 

However, new research has revealed that it takes a lot less than that for cell phones and other devices to become a distraction in a vehicle. Fleet managers should be taking notes, which can then be used to keep their motorists safe on the roads. 

According to researchers from Florida State University, even just the sound of a mobile device receiving a message or setting off an alarm can negatively affect a driver's focus. This isn't a minor distraction either, with the university putting it on par with physically picking up the device in question. 

On top of this, the effects last much longer than the initial reaction to the notification, as the study found that these noises can often trigger "task-irrelevant thoughts" or promote day dreaming, which extends the length of the distraction

The research may have discovered an oversight in current cell phone laws, as these and their accompanying campaigns usually simply focus on not answering texts or calls. 

AA Insurance found that, despite the awareness of these dangers, few motorists are stepping up and changing their tune. According to the organisation, 28 per cent of all drivers can't see anything wrong with texting while in a traffic jam or waiting at the lights, despite the fact this is illegal. 

Managing Director of AA Insurance Janet Connor says there is no excuse for this behaviour, as it's a choice drivers make that puts themselves and others at risk. 

"This deliberate act diverts attention from driving, significantly heightening the risk of a crash," she said. "While drivers may mistakenly exceed a speed limit, no-one sends a text by mistake."