The harmful combination between the risky use of mobile phone during driving and job strain

One of the biggest issues of human health today is road safety. Nearly, 1.2 million people die every year in road crashes worldwide. One of the main causes of road trauma and injury is mobile phone distraction among drivers and vulnerable road users such as pedestrians or cyclists. A recent investigation conducted by Dr. Oviedo-Trespalacios from CARRS-Q at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) showed that the use of mobile phones due to professional duties increases the likelihood of using the phone during safety-critical moments on the road (e.g., while crossing the road). The physical and mental transition from the work domain to the home domain – namely commuting – is one of these critical moments on the road. Typically, some job processes (such as business calls, job ruminations, or workgroup texting) are often managed or completed during commuting. Therefore, the daily workload and consequent strain experienced may have an effect on safety behaviors during the commute. Specifically, poorly designed job demands could influence health-compromising behaviors such as mobile phone use while driving or walking. Also, job and personal resources, such as recovery processes, may protect commuters from exhaustion and distraction deriving from job duties. Although the relationship between job demands and risky behaviors while commuting seems probable, this has never been addressed by the scientific literature. Emerging evidence shows that deadlines, time pressure, and stressful cognitive job demands may contribute to human health. 

In light of this, the present project, by combining the job demands-resources theory and the result of the imbalance between them, will explore the impact of end-of-day job strain on the safety of commuters. A promising collaboration between the research of the Work and Organizational group of Verona University (APRESO) and QUT better elucidate the effects of work-related stress on driving behaviors.  

The current research project investigates associations between MPUWD (Mobile Phone Use While Driving) risk behaviors, domain‐specific risk perceptions, and broad personality dimensions. An Italian community sample completed a survey regarding MPUWD risk perceptions and engagement in MPUWD, in addition to a broad six‐factor personality inventory (honesty‐humility, emotionality, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience), and another six‐factor domain‐specific self‐report risk‐taking measure (health/safety, recreational, social, ethical, gambling, and investment). Concerning domain‐specific risk-taking, greater frequency of SMS use while driving most strongly was associated with greater risk-taking for the health/safety, gambling, and ethical risk domains. Further, greater honesty‐humility and conscientiousness, two traits related to cognitive control and risk behaviors, and a lesser extent openness to experience, were associated with less frequent MPUWD and positively associated with MPUWD risk perceptions. 

The outcomes from this project offer an innovative framework to study the impact of work on road crashes and ultimately human health. Potential pathways for interventions will be established, and later utilized, to seek funding from external bodies (e.g., government, industry partners, or philanthropic funds).  

Since mobile phone use, while driving is an increasingly common form of distracted driving, and given its widespread prevalence, researchers need to identify factors that may predict who is more likely to engage in this risky behavior. This research project aims exactly to understand associated personality factors. This is not only important for identifying psychological mechanisms underlying risk behavior, but also for more effective prevention and intervention programs. 

References

Sween, M.; Ceschi, Andrea; Tommasi, Francesco; Sartori, Riccardo; Weller, Joshua, Who is a Distracted Driver? Associations between Mobile Phone Use while Driving, Domain-Specific Risk Taking, and Personality. «RISK ANALYSIS» ,
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