, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 79-94
Date: 15 Oct 2011

Embodied technology and the dangers of using the phone while driving

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Abstract

Contemporary scientific research and public policy are not in agreement over what should be done to address the dangers that result from the drop in driving performance that occurs as a driver talks on a cellular phone. One response to this threat to traffic safety has been the banning in a number of countries and some states in the USA of handheld cell phone use while driving. However, research shows that the use of hands-free phones (such as headsets and dashboard-mounted speakers) also accompanies a drop, leading some to recommend regulation of both kinds of mobile phones. In what follows, I draw out the accounts of the driving impairment associated with phone use implicit in research and policy and develop an alternative account grounded in philosophical considerations. Building on work in a school of thought called postphenomenology, I review and expand concepts useful for articulating human bodily and perceptual relations to technology. By applying these ideas to the case of driving while talking on the phone, I offer an account of the drop in driving performance which focuses on the embodied relationships users develop with the car and the phone, and I consider implications for research and policy.