Cell Talkers Clogging Up Highways

Even those with hands-free devices slow driving conditions, study says
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2008 6:35 PM CST
An unidentified man talks on his cell phone as he drives in Lawrenceville, N.J. in this June 24, 2004 file photo. People talking on the cell phones are making your commute slower, by as much as dozens...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – In addition to being distracted and erratic, drivers using cell phones also slow traffic, a study confirms. Using a simulator with virtual traffic scenes, researchers discovered that drivers using mobile phones—even ones with hands-free devices—go more slowly on highways and pass sluggish drivers less frequently. "That SOB on the cell phone is slowing you down and making you late," one tells LiveScience.

In the experiment, drivers talking on cell phones were about 20% less likely to change into a faster-moving lane, drove an average of 2 mph slower, and took 15-19 seconds longer to complete a 9.2-mile freeway course. "The average person's commute is longer because of that person who is on the cell phone right in front of them," one researcher said.