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What constitutes a typical cell phone call?

UMTRI-2003-38


Authors: Paul A. Green, Jason George, Renju Jacob

A total of 21 young people completed a 35-multipart question survey about their use of cell phones. Of them, 15 completed logs of every call for a month and answered over 20 multipart questions about each call (depending on the call), covering a total of 1,168 cell phone calls, about half of which were made while driving. The purpose of this study was to identify typical conditions of cell phone use and determine how driving and non-driving conditions differ so studies of cell phone safety and usability can examine test conditions that closely approximate real use. Calls were more likely to be business than personal, though many of the calls were social and involved scheduling meetings. About 1/5 of all calls while driving involved the use of pencil/pen/paper. Calls while driving were often long distance, were often dialed using a phone book, and averaged about 2-1/2 minutes in length. However, about 3/4 of all calls were a minute or less. About half of the calls were in residential and rural areas, 1/4-1/5 involved driving in degraded weather, and half were in medium or heavy traffic. Many of these driving situations have not been examined in the literature.

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