Differing Types of Cellular Phone Conversations and Dangerous Driving

Document Type


Publication Date



This study sought to investigate the relationship between cell phone conversation type and dangerous driving behaviors. It was hypothesized that more emotional phone conversations engaged in while driving would produce greater frequencies of dangerous driving behaviors in a simulated environment than more mundane conversation or no phone conversation at all. Participants were semi-randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) no call, (2) mundane call, and, (3) emotional call. While driving in a simulated environment, participants in the experimental groups received a phone call from a research confederate who either engaged them in innocuous conversation (mundane call) or arguing the opposite position of a deeply held belief of the participant (emotional call). Participants in the no call and mundane call groups differed significantly only on percent time spent speeding and center line crossings, though the mundane call group consistently engaged in more of all dangerous driving behaviors than did the no call participants. Participants in the emotional call group engaged in significantly more dangerous driving behaviors than participants in both the no call and mundane call groups, with the exception of traffic light infractions, where there were no significant group differences. Though there is need for replication, the authors concluded that whereas talking on a cell phone while driving is risky to begin with, having emotionally intense conversations is considerably more dangerous.