Also see new LSA media release
In March 2008 Telecom and Vodaphone called for a ban on cellphone use by drivers
University of Utah study: Drivers on Cell Phones = Drunk Driving
Three years after the preliminary results first were presented at a scientific meeting and drew wide attention, University of Utah psychologists have published a study showing that motorists who talk on handheld or hands-free cellular phones are as impaired as drunken drivers.
"We found that people are as impaired when they drive and talk on a cell phone as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit" of 0.08 percent, which is the minimum level that defines illegal drunken driving in most U.S. states, says study co-author Frank Drews, an assistant professor of psychology. "If legislators really want to address driver distraction, then they should consider outlawing cell phone use while driving."
Continues on http://www.cellular-news.com/story/18083.php.
See report by Direct Line Insurance: Mobile Phone report
Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones ihttp://www.iegmp.org.uk/ includes a summary of evidence that states
There is strong experimental evidence that engaging in a mobile phone conversation impairs drivers’ ability to react to potentially hazardous road situations. The impairment appears to be greater than that associated with merely listening to a radio or engaging in a relatively “automatic” task such as repeating back words heard over the phone; is evident during a “casual” conversation; increases along with the mental workload imposed by the conversation; is greater in elderly drivers; and is unaffected by mode of phone use (hand-held versus hands-free). There is less evidence as to whether aspects of driving other than speed or accuracy of reaction to changing road circumstances differ according to mode of phone operation. Consistent with what might be expected on the basis of common experience, one study found that placing a call on a hand-held set is associated with a transient impairment in the basic control of the vehicle. The extent to which this “peripheral” effect adds to the risk posed by the more sustained “central” effects that are shared by hand-held and hands-free operation appears to be unknown at present. It should be noted that none of the studies reviewed above compared the effects on driving performance of phone use to the effects caused by conversing with a passenger. Thus it remains to be established whether an in-car conversation that places a cognitive load on the driver equivalent to that imposed by a mobile phone call has similarly detrimental effects on performance. There are, however, good reasons to suppose that the effects of an in-car conversation will be less than those associated with the use of a phone. In contrast to the individual on the other end of a phone call, a passenger can monitor the road situation and “pace” the interaction according to circumstances (for example, suspending conversation during an overtaking manoeuvre). In addition, a passenger can act as a second “pair of eyes”, alerting the driver to potential hazards.
An Australian study, published in July 2005 notes
Driver's use of a mobile phone up to 10 minutes before a crash was associated with a fourfold increased likelihood of crashing . Risk was raised irrespective of whether or not a hands-free device was used.
A recent study of young drivers texting notes that a recently completed study of 19- to 24-year-olds in driving simulators found that motorists who text message while driving are six times more likely to be distracted and have an accident. When a driver texts, driving patterns change. For example, the response time to brake is 23 percent slower 1.077 seconds when texting and driving compared with 0.881 seconds when unencumbered.
Victoria was the first Australian State to ban the use of hand-held phones while driving.
Countries which have banned hand-held cell phone usage: http://mobileoffice.about.com/cs/traveladvice/qt/usingcellphone.htm