Twice the braking path at 50 km/h

DEKRA Info March 2018

Making phone calls while driving

Distracted for just two seconds:

People who are distracted for just two seconds while driving their vehicle at a speed of 50 km/h require more than twice as long to brake than if they were devoting their undivided attention to the task of driving, warns the DEKRA expert. “A distraction of two seconds translates into the vehicle traveling 54 meters before it comes to a halt; without distraction it would have been just 26 meters,” explains DEKRA Accident Analyst Stephan Schlosser. “Every meter counts in critical traffic situations. For example, if a child runs onto a road, a length of 28 meters can mean the difference between life and death.”

Many a motorist might well think “I'll just take a quick look at my cell phone and have everything under control.” “However, that's a mistake: while the driver is looking at his cell phone, he is traveling completely blind,” stresses the accident expert. “The acceptance and confirmation of a message takes an average of about seven seconds. In that time the vehicle traveling at 50 km/h in the example above will have traveled 100 meters, a distance in which the vehicle is moving without any driver control.” And even if the driver casts a brief glance onto the road during all this, he is not focusing on driving and cannot react to dangerous situations.

The expert also advises against making longer telephone calls while driving. In Germany telephoning at the wheel of a vehicle is not against the law if the driver is using a hands-free system. This can either be a system installed permanently in the vehicle or a Bluetooth headset. Nevertheless, the operation of the smartphone must have ended by the time the engine has started or be effected via a language recognition function.

If you wish to play it safe, always keep your hands off the cell phone when driving. According to the 2015 Global Road Safety Report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), accident data collated form around 50 countries point to the fact that motorists who are using the telephone while driving are roughly four times as likely to be involved in accidents as non-telephone users. The report also found that telephoning by means of hands-free systems offers no real advantages over handheld phones. Presumably, because the cognitive distraction occurring is the most dangerous form of distraction in both situations.


Tilman Vögele-Ebering

Press officer Industrial


Phone +49.711.7861-2122

Fax +49.711.7861-742122

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