Explaining hypocrisy among drivers who talk on cellphones

U psychologists David Sanbonmatsu, David Strayer and colleagues conducted a detailed survey of 249 University of Utah undergraduate students, ages 18 to 44, who drive at least occasionally and own a cellphone. Of those surveyed, 78 percent talked on a cellphone while driving at least occasionally, yet 62 percent favored legislation to restrict the practice. There was a big overlap: 44 percent favored restrictive legislation even though they drive while talking on a cellphone. “Our study helps to understand the hypocrisy,” the researchers wrote. The survey revealed that many people overestimate their own ability to drive safely while talking on a mobile phone, and that “although motorists are confident in their personal driving abilities, they generally do not believe that other people are capable of driving safely while talking on a cellphone. … The belief that others’ use of cellphones while driving is a threat to the safety and well-being of others, in turn, was one of the strongest independent predictors of support for laws to restrict cellphone use.” The study was published recently by the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

David Sanbonmatsu, cell 435-659-1198, sanbonmatsu@psych.utah.edu

David Strayer, cell 801-949-1271, david.strayer@utah.edu