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Project title: Driving Records and the Use of Mobile Telephones at the Wheel

File: I137.1

Experimental studies have shown that drivers' performance is affected by their use of mobile telephones at the wheel. An initial epidemiological study in Québec (Laberge-Nadeau et al. 2001) showed an increased risk in all types of collisions for mobile telephone users. The accident risk is 38% higher for users than non-users, and this risk increases with frequency of use. The databank created for the initial study was used again to further clarify the risk of accidents in relation to the use of mobile phones, to assess the characteristics of accidents among the two cohorts, to analyze the propensity for at-risk driving, etc.

The objectives of this research were: 1) Analysis of violations in relation to road travel. 2) Accident typology. 3) Estimation of the real risk using the criss-cross method. 4) Determination of accident risk according to Bayesian analyses. 5) Analysis of accidents in 1987 and 1996 to evaluate accident risk before the use of cellphones.

Three data sources were linked to achieve the five objectives in the study: the databank created for the preliminary epidemiological study, data obtained from a mail-out questionnaire sent to a sampling of persons with a driver's licence; information obtained from four mobile telephone companies on 19 million telephone calls.

General information:


Beginning:  2002-03-01
Ending:  2004-02-01

Total cost:  $128 000 

This amount includes the contribution from the ministère des Transports, from the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) and from the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies (FQRNT).

Research report:  Usage de la téléphonie mobile au volant et le dossier de conduite

Final reports are available for loan from the Transports Québec Documentation Centre.

Results and recommandations:
The results of the five analyses reinforce the observed inference of the risk related to the possession of a mobile telephone and accidents occurring while one is used. The main results include: when the risk is adjusted for the probability that a driver is using or not using a cellphone at the time of an accident, the accident risk for persons who use a cellphone while driving is 1.7 times greater than that of non-users, and up to 2.3 times greater depending on frequency of use; users' risk of committing violations of the Highway Safety Code is 1.5 time greater than that of non-users, and up to 2 times greater for persons who use a cellphone extensively while driving.

Project supervisor
for Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec:/strong>
Michelle Gendreau
Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec
333, boulevard Jean-Lesage
Québec, Québec
Principal researcher:
Claire Laberge-Nadeau
Laboratoire de sécurité sur les transports
Université de Montréal
Centre de recherche sur les transports, Succ. A
Montréal, Québec