Tag Archives: cell phone

EAST Evidence Based Review: Distracted Driving

EAST is branching out from one of its core areas, creating trauma practice guidelines. They are now beginning to address other problems using the same techniques for developing their practice guidelines. Instead of generating guidelines for clinical care, they are creating action statements based on the best available literature.

This Distracted Driving review was one of a group of new EBRs was presented last week at the EAST Annual Scientific Assembly. The panel reviewed information from government agencies and studies based on crash databases and simulations. The number of cellphone subscribers has surpassed 250 million, and the number of deaths from distracted driving has followed a similar curve. 

Distracted driving is implicated in 20% of injury crashes and 16% of fatal crashes. Drivers under age 20 has the highest proportion of distracted drivers. 

EAST made three Level II recommendations, which means that they are reasonably justifiable by available scientific evidence and strongly supported by expert opinion. They are:

  • Drivers should minimize all distractions while on the road
  • Cell phone use and texting should not be performed while driving
  • Younger inexperienced drivers should not use cell phones during their probation period (if such a period is mandated by their state)

Future areas of interest will include studying the impact of legislation regarding cell phones and texting, development of crash avoidance systems, and evolving cell phone technologies.

Reference: Evidence Based Review on Distracted Driving, presented at the 2011 EAST Annual Scientific Assembly. Note: this information is preliminary and may be changed prior to publication.


This interesting paper was presented at the 23rd Annual Scientific Assembly of EAST. The authors studied attitudes and behaviors regarding texting among college students. They performed an anonymous internet survey of 426 freshmen looking at a number of indicators. The specific items and results are as follows:

  • Average age of cell phone use: 14
  • Average age of first texting: 15
  • 73% have texted while driving but
    • 53% do not believe they can safely text while driving and
    • 60% feel texting while driving should be illegal
    • Only 63% would abide by the law if it were passed
  • 92% feel texting is less safe than talking on the cell phone
  • 84% have ridden with drivers who text

A lot of psychological subterfuge goes on in the minds of these young adults as they consider whether to text while driving or not. They weigh the use of fear control (rationalization) versus danger control (behavior change), and frequently rationalization wins out as the majority continue to engage in this risky behavior.

Education and awareness are needed to try to change behaviors, but will probably not be sufficient. Another study at this meeting compared cell phone use in two adjacent states, one where it was not legal and the other where it was. Cell phone use in the unrestricted state was over 6% vs 2% in the restricted state. Education programs, coupled with laws making texting illegal are a good combination, but more work will need to be done. Cell phone apps are in development that shut down talk and text functions when they are moving at automobile speeds. More innovative solutions like this will certainly be required.