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A Study of Car Accidents Caused by the Usage of Cell Phones


Numerous studies and researches show that using cell phones while driving is a major cause of distracting the drivers and hence contribute to an elevated risk of car accidents. According to Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, the number of cell phone subscribers back in 1987 was less than 100,000, whereas by the end of last year there were 19.9 million consumers in Canada.  Therefore, during the past two decades the number of cell phone subscribers has increased to around 20,000%.

The increased growth of cell phones has unfortunately not been escorted by proper regulations which results in a higher risks of car accidents. Cell phones cannot only distract the drivers and contribute to vehicle crashing but also provide a number of benefits for the students and the workers.

The usage of cell phones is much higher in ages 18-25 as compared to 40-55; moreover, there is a higher risk for the young people to crash their vehicles as compared to other age groups.

Problem Statement

The following research will bring a deeper insight to the fact that engaging into cell phone activities while driving may lead to car crashes. The purpose of this research is to find out if there are any other associated factors such as age group involved in car crashes due to cell phone usage.


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Chapter 2: Literature Review

The purpose of this research is to determine and compare the cell phone usage patterns while driving and the resulting car crashing scenarios. The following chapter will comprise of the researches and the studies conducted in the past by other researchers on the same topic.

According to Kiesbye (2011), there has been increased evidence that usage of cell phone either hands-held or hands free causes a careless driving behaviour in both rural and urban environment. Vehicle accidents due to driver’s carelessness and inattention have increased dangerously over the past few years.

Ward et al.(2007) postulates that potential liability issues causes car drivers to be reluctant to report the usage of cell phone during the investigations and there are no direct or definite method to ensure if the cell phone was bring used or not prior to the car crash.

According the research presented by Wåhlberg (2009), using cell phone definitely impairs the driving performance. He adds on that specifically the following impairments are observed in people who use their cell phones while driving:

  • Lane position maintaining

  • Maintaining a reasonable speed

  • Maintaining appropriate distances

  • Increased reaction times to the changing driving environment.
  • Situational awareness

Young Adult Drivers

According to a recent study, one of the major causes of death and lifetime disability in young Americans is car crashes and accidents. Important to note that drivers aged 18-25 have a higher fatality rate as compared to those of 40-55 years (Pedestrian Safety Report, 2012).

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Increased cell phone usage on roads threatens the young drivers’ safety among whom 14% are licensed and 26% are involved in fatal crashes, which indicates that the young drivers may be threatened disproportionately.

American Automobile Association states that the young drivers are tremendously more likely to be involved in long phone calls, texting and engaging in other cell phone activities as compared to that of older drivers (Pedestrian Safety Report, 2012).

Young drivers show extraordinary reductions in multi-task processing and precision when using their cell phones while driving. Talking over cell phone while driving is definitely a distraction for the young drivers especially texting which increases the risk of vehicle crashing. About 50% of the 18-25 years age drivers accepted that they are involved in cell phone activities specially texting while driving. This rate is much lower that is 5 % in comparison with people aged up to 40 years and older (Ward et al., 2007). A survey was conducted of 1185 college students out of which nearly 64% claimed that they had experiences of accidents or near accidents and 21% of those accidents were due to the usage of cell phones (Kiesbye, 2011)

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Cell Phone Use Banned in US

The legislative authorities have noticed the dangers associated with cell phone usage while driving and have continuously attempted to take measures to address this issue. This was among the initial steps taken to reduce cell phone distraction while driving. New York was the first state to enact this law since 2001.

However, Wåhlberg (2009) argues that the bans do not include hands-free usage, in spite of the fact that many researches state that hands-free is equally dangerous as hand-held phones.

According to Pedestrian Safety Report (2012), the state of New York faced relatively less number of fatal car accidents and reduced personal injury vehicle crashing rates after the ban on cell phone usage while driving.

Chapter 3: Methodology

According to Kiesbye (2011), it is necessary to select a comprehensive and appropriate research methodology as a part of analysis on any topic.

Sampling Frame

As discussed earlier, the research would be carried out using surveys, 100 legal drivers of ages 18-50 who would be selected from Queens and 100 were selected from New York of the same age groups. Hence, the sampling frame for this research paper is legal drivers in Queens and New York of ages 18-50

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Date Collection Process

Data collection process would be carried out in the following two phases:

Primary Data

This is the data from which we can get first-hand information from the respondents. To ensure the accuracy and preciseness of the research, primary data is used to obtain rational result. Primary data collection is done through use of surveys, questionnaires, meetings, interviews etc. However, experts say that some researches cannot make use of the primary data collection methods due to their subject limitation.

Secondary Data

Secondary data is not first-hand information from the population. In this phase, the data collected from primary sources is gathered compiled and assembled. As part of secondary data collection, data is gathered from sources which are easily available like handouts, tutorials and researches present over internet.

Research Instrument

As part of this research, we will gather first-hand information from the respondents by making use of the surveys. The respondents will be legal drivers of Queens and New York of different age groups. In this way we will be able to get direct and accurate results by obtaining the data from the respondents. The surveys would not be held randomly but all the respondents would be required to answer the survey questions at the same time and in the same room. Another possible option to hold a survey would be to make use of the Internet and post the survey questions to the targeted audience. The main sections of the survey will comprise of the following: driving hours, type of cell phone usage and safety issues.

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Data Analysis

As part of this research, data analysis would be carried out using statistical and quantitative methods. As discussed earlier, the survey would be held after which the data collected would be gathered together for analysis and evaluation. In order to give a deeper understanding and insight to the research topic, a brief literature review would also be held listing down the statistics and results of previous researchers on the same topic.

Chapter 4: Results

Based on the survey results, the respondents were categorized into three groups: overall respondents, respondents without crashes and respondents with crashes. As the groups suggest, there were normal respondents, the respondents who have suffered from crashes and those who have not suffered from crashes while using cell phones in car.

Driving Hours

Generally, the higher number of driving hours for a person means a higher is the risk of getting involved in cell phone activities while driving and hence, greater would be the risk for accident. However, this was not observed in the survey results. It was also noticed that no matter what age group the respondent belongs to, he is equally vulnerable to car crashes due to cell phone usage. The study indicates that driving hours is not majorly related to car crashes among the drivers. Following is the graphical illustration of survey results based on driving hours. The results show that driving hours and the frequency of crashes are not related to each other.

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Cell Phone Usage and Frequency of Accidents

According to the survey results, drivers using cell phones may involve in the following cell phone activities:

  1. Making or answering calls

  2. Searching through address book

  3. Sending or reading text messages

  4. Sending or reading emails

  5. Taking pictures

Though every cell phone activity is equally dangerous yet we were determined to find out the most dangerous cell phone activity irrespective of the age group the driver belongs to.

The following figure illustrates that higher the number of answering or making calls per week by the driver; the higher will be the frequency of car accidents.

Important to note that out of these, 16% of the drivers use hands-free whereas the rest of them use hand-held for making or answering calls.

Similar is the case with texting, emailing and taking pictures with the cell phone while driving. According to the results of the survey, 67% respondents accepted that they read their text messages while driving and 74% accepted that they also write and send text messages while driving.

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Age Groups and Car Accidents Involving Cell Phones Usage

Another important factor related to the car crashes due to cell phone usage was age group. According to our survey results, every age group is likely to be affected by a car accident equally due to cell phone usage. Following is the figure that illustrates that age group has nothing to do with car crashes involving cell phone usage.

Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations

The gathered and analysed data in this research indicates that usage of cell phones while driving is affecting lives negatively irrespective of their age group, the type of cell phone usage and the driving hours. A significant finding of this paper is that despite the fact that usage of cell phone is banned in US, people find it really difficult to refrain from using their cell phones while driving and ultimately the risks of car crashes rise to a dangerous level. Also to mention that according to the results of this research, age group does not affect the car crashes due to cell phone usage. Any person of any age can experience an accident due to cell phone usage as the human mind is not able to multi-task to this level.

As part of the recommendations of this paper, we would like to suggest for future researchers that a demography survey can be conducted to determine the gender, ethnicity and other factors related to driving behaviours.

Another suggestion would be to make sure on state level that every cell phone gets disabled as soon as the car engine starts. This would eliminate the risk completely of involving in car crashes due to cell phone usage. There should be a regulating authority which should monitor the status of the car engine and the cell phones of all the people in the car. The phones should automatically get enabled as soon as the car stops.



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