Even if the hands-free system is used to carry on a conversation on WhatsApp, an additional cognitive effort is required that increases the chances of having an accident or committing a violation.
With the arrival of mobile phones and hands-free systems, many drivers are driving while having a conversation on WhatsApp, either by voice or even by writing messages, and even if the vehicle is stationary, it can be a risk.
However, according to a report called “mobile phone, tiredness, drowsiness and distractions behind the wheel” by Mapfre Foundation in collaboration with Adhara Research and the Institute for Sustainable Mobility (IMS), it is concluded that having a conversation through instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp reduces attention to driving by up to 53%.
To reach this conclusion, they collected the results of 24 drivers, half of them tired and sleepy and the other half rested, who got behind the wheel in a driving simulator while having different conversations through instant messaging applications.
They claim that talking on the mobile phone with the hands-free system and sending messages via WhatsApp while driving multiply the probability of serious driving errors by two such as running off the road, colliding with another vehicle, or hitting a pedestrian.
And it is that the driver must make an additional cognitive effort while driving to be able to hold a conversation on WhatsApp, in a relaxed call he reduces his attention by 36% and in a more stressful conversation he reduces his attention by 40%.
It has also been highlighted in the results of the report that women take more prudent driving actions to minimize risk when they are having a conversation on WhatsApp, for example by slowing down and taking advantage of stops at red lights.
On the other hand, older drivers commit fewer infractions, but more driving errors, while younger drivers commit more infractions and use more fuel due to their driving.
In the report they issue a recommendation stating that All telephone conversations must take place with the vehicle stationary and in a safe area, and that the hands-free system is not a guarantee of safety at the wheel.
The new traffic law that is being processed in parliament will toughen the penalties for driving and holding mobile devices with the hand, with fines that would amount to € 500 and the withdrawal of six points from the driving license.