Smartphones and Driver/Pedestrian Distraction

Smartphones and Driver/Pedestrian Distraction


Individuals interact with their smartphones throughout the day, regardless of the activity they are performing (e.g., dining in restaurants, walking, having a conversation, shopping, or driving).

In the US, phone calls are no longer a preferred method of communication. Individuals nowadays prefer to communicate via text messages. The use of mobile instant messaging applications (e.g., WhatsApp, Messenger, iMessage, Viber) rather than messaging services from cellular service providers have become very popular among users, far outpacing the use of more traditional text messaging. Although, the global usage of these modes of communication may not be considered as often as traditional voice and text message phone records when assessing accident causation due to potential driver distraction from phone usage.


Ongoing research performed by Explico aims to highlight the prevalence of instant messaging applications, the need to consider the usage of instant messaging applications when assessing potential driver and pedestrian distractions due to smartphone usage, and some initial tools for gathering data on usage of some of the applications.

Research performed by Explico resulted in peer-reviewed publications.


  • People send more messages through IM apps vs messages operated by cellular network carriers
  • IM apps are a source for driver distraction
  • Information can be requested, following the proper protocols
  • Some IM apps provide the users direct means to acquire information
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