WhatsApp at the wheel

According to a recent study conducted by the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, heavy smartphone users do not change their habits when driving. Being stuck in traffic has sometimes even increased smartphone usage while behind the wheel, according to the Finnish study which was conducted between June and September of 2016.

The behavior of 30 heavy in-car smartphone users in Finland was analyzed from several perspectives, with data being recorded for the number of times drivers touched their phones, their locations and driving speed at the moment of interacting with the device, as well as the applications they used (phone calls were excluded).

By far the highest overall rankings in the number of drivers using, number of uses, and duration per use instance was associated with the WhatsApp messaging service“, claims the study. The data is more complex, with “one instance of WhatsApp use had a median of 8 touches, and had a median duration of 35 s. In contrast, navigation application use included a median of 3 touches and lasted for 11 s”, the Finns added.

However, this doesn’t mean that WhatsApp is the only app/service that is the cause for distraction. Messaging applications in general are the culprit, and, at least in Finland, “smartphone heavy-users do not decrease their phone use when the demands of the traffic conditions increase“.

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