HSE road safety update: mobile devices and driving


Mobile communication devices, including mobile phones, are tools that enhance business communication and increase personal convenience.  But unfortunately, many research studies suggest that using mobile devices while driving has become a road safety concern worldwide because it causes driving distraction. Distraction occurs when, for example, drivers have to operate their mobile phones and operate their vehicle simultaneously and divert part of their attention from driving to the telephone conversation.

Furthermore, research data1 shows that driver reaction times are 50% slower when using a mobile phone while driving.  At KAUST, to avoid distracted driving, the Traffic and Vehicle Safety Policy requires all vehicle operators (including cyclists) to refrain from using handheld mobile phones or other mobile devices while driving or cycling unless it is completely hands-free or in a mounting affixed to the vehicle.  Despite this, we still see noncompliance in KAUST.  The Security Department issued 24 violations for using a mobile phone while driving since January of this year.  

Why we know it is a good idea not to use mobile devices while driving

  • Using mobile phones while driving is dangerous and causes drivers to be distracted.  Distracted drivers have an increased risk of causing crashes, injuries, and even fatalities. Visual-manual cell phone interaction triples drivers’ odds of involvement in a road departure crash. It raises a driver’s odds of rear-ending the vehicle in front by more than seven2.
  • Visual-manual tasks (particularly texting) are associated with an increased crash risk3.
  • Research shows that when using a mobile phone while driving, the risk of being involved in a crash is four times greater than usual.
  • When driving and text messaging, drivers can spend more time with their eyes off the road than when they are not texting4.
  • Research also shows a risk of collision using handheld and hands-free mobile phones5.

How Can You Make a Difference?

  • Don’t use your mobile phone or other mobile devices while operating a vehicle, including alternative modes of transport, for example, bicycles and e-scooters.   
  • Avoid distracted driving. Operators of vehicles should proceed to a safe area and safely park their vehicle before making or accepting a call.
  • Check a map or GPS before setting off so you know the directions to your destination.
  • Be an example of exemplary safe road behaviors. Don’t use mobile phones or other mobile devices while driving.
  • Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. We appeal to our Community to hold themselves accountable and if you have a team, hold them responsible too.
  • Have conversations with your family, friends and colleagues about safe road behaviors and why it matters.  

For questions or comments, please contact hse@kaust.edu.sa.  Thank you for not using your mobile phone while driving and for Keeping KAUST Safe!


1Burns, P, Parkes, A, Burton, S, Smith, R, & Burch, D, 2002, How dangerous is driving with a mobile phone? Benchmarking the impairment to alcohol, TRL Report TRL547, TRL Limited, Berkshire, United Kingdom. Retrieved July 2022, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259258482_How_Dangerous_is_Driving_with_a_Mobile_Phone_Benchmarking_the_Impairment_to_Alcohol

2Crash Risk of Cell Phone Use While Driving: A Case-Crossover Analysis of Naturalistic Driving Data. (2018, January). AAAFoundation.Org. Retrieved July 2022, from https://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/18-0105_AAAFTS-AAAFTS-Cell-Phone-Crash-Risk-Fact-Sheet_FNL.pdf

3Johnson, T. (2018, January). Crash Risk of Cell Phone Use While Driving: A Case – Crossover Analysis of Naturalistic Driving Data. Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved July 2022, from https://aaafoundation.org/crash-risk-cell-phone-use-driving-case-crossover-analysis-naturalistic-driving-data/

4Hosking, S. G., Young, K. L., & Regan, M. A. (2009). The effects of text messaging on young drivers. Human factors51(4), 582–592. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018720809341575

5Al-Jasser, F. S., Mohamed, A. G., Choudry, A., & Youssef, R. M. (2018). Mobile phone use while driving and the risk of collision: A study among preparatory year students at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Journal of family & community medicine25(2), 102–107. https://doi.org/10.4103/jfcm.JFCM_139_17