April 24, 2005 by Canadian Underwriter
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is teaming up with researchers at the University of Calgary to study the impact of cell phone use by novice drivers.
IBC will sponsor the research project which includes two phases – a simulation study and an on-road study – with 20 novice drivers and 20 experienced drivers in each phase asked to carry out phone-related tasks such as dialing and talking while driving. The performance of novice drivers, who will 21 or younger with less than 60 hours’ driving experience, will be compared to that of the more experienced drivers using such factors as reaction times, eye movement and vehicle control.
“Learning to drive requires a person to do many things at once – steering, braking, shifting gears and watching for traffic,” says University of Calgary Professor Jeff Caird, who will conduct the simulator portion of the study. “When a novice driver adds a distraction like talking on a cellular phone, a task that in itself requires variable levels of cognitive effort, the results can be disastrous.”
Jim Rivait, vice president of the Prairie region for IBC says the study is unprecedented because it is the first to focus on cell phones as a distraction to younger drivers. “We already know that Alberta drivers aged 16 to 24 use cell phones more than any other age group. They are also more likely than older, more experienced drivers to be involved in collisions that result in death,” he notes. “We expect this study to provide more information on the extent to which novice drivers are distracted by cell phone use and whether governments should consider changes to graduated licensing in response,”
The study is expected to run from May to August of this year.