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In-car iPod handling hinders driving ability - study

Impacts driver performance as much as phones do

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A US university has proved what most of us realised already: using an iPod while driving makes you more likely to have an accident. According to a study conducted by Philadelphia's Drexel University, it's as dangerous as handling a mobile phone.

Computer science professor Dario Salvucci put 12 people into driving simulators, Physorg reports. All the participants claimed to have used an iPod before so could be assumed to be able to navigate their way around the player quickly and efficiently. During the test, some listened to music, some to podcasts, others watched videos.

The test involved selecting content while following a vehicle doing a steady 55mph. Salvucci found that messing with the music player caused the drivers to veer away from the middle of the lane and to reduce their speed. Slowing down without warning was a behaviour particularly shown by drivers watching videos.

All of which isn't remotely surprising - anything that takes your attention, even part of it, away from the road can't be a good thing.

That's true of any in-car entertainment system. But, crucially, Salvucci's findings show the iPod users drove as badly as people picking up and dialling mobile phones. Driving while holding a mobile phone is illegal in this country and in many others. Is it time to add other handheld devices to the list of no-nos?

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