Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Gender and age-related differences in the perception of in- vehicle mobile phone usage among Portuguese drivers


               In the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) area, every year, more than 120 thousands individuals are killed in road crashes, with a consequent social and economic impact. One of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents is driver distraction, defined as the drivers’ involvement in doing things that are not related to the primary driving task and that disturb attention needed when driving safely. It has already been proved that the use of the mobile phone while driving has a negative impact on the driving performance, increasing the risk of being involved in a car accident. However, in order to plan adequate corrective actions, there is the need to know more about people’s usage of mobile phone while driving and what are drivers’ opinions about the risk represented by that action. The aim of the present study was three-fold: to investigate the patterns of use of the mobile phone while driving by gender and age, to find out the prevalence of hands-free systems use by gender and age and, finally, to understand the perceived hazard in using the mobile phone while driving by gender and age. A sample of 769 Portuguese drivers answered a web-based survey developed in the frame of the European project INTERACTION. The answers revealed that the rate of mobile phone use among Portuguese drivers is very high. In addition, results showed that drivers perceived talking on a hands-free mobile phone while driving as much less dangerous compared with speaking on a hand-held mobile phone. Based on those results, further research is suggested.

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