Speaking phone in car more dangerous than drunk driving

In the study, 40 people followed a pace car along a prescribed course, using a driving simulator. Some people drove while talking on a cell phone, others navigated while drunk (meaning their blood-alcohol limit matched the legal limit of 0.08 percent), and others drove with no such distractions or impairments, Health Day News reports.

The phone users fared even worse than the inebriated, the Utah team found. There were three accidents among those talking on cell phones - all of them involving a rear-ending of the pace car. In contrast, there were no accidents recorded among participants who were drunk, or the sober, cell-phone-free group, according to Forbes.

Drivers using hands-free phones were no better than those with the hand-held variety.

The peer-reviewed study is in the new issue of Human Factors, the journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, which promotes the study of how humans, machines and other devices interact most optimally, Seattle Times reports.