Car crash

What’s more distracting while driving: texting or calling?

You’ve probably seen or heard a public service announcement about how dangerous it is to text while driving. Looking at your smartphone to tap out a message is a sustained distraction from what’s happening on the road. We’ve all been guilty once or twice of almost walking into someone while walking and texting; traveling in a car at highway speeds makes that behavior outright dangerous.

Data points to another dangerous smartphone-related behavior to watch out for while driving. According to a study of 3.1 million drivers by the U.S. National Safety Council, 88% of drivers use their smartphones for 3.5 minutes per hour of driving. The data doesn’t show that talking on the phone is itself dangerous—but making or answering a call is, because doing so requires the driver to look away from the road. And just 2 seconds of distraction increases the risk of an accident by up to 24x.

This is a strong argument in favor of next-generation conversational interfaces to operate devices. But until those technologies mature, be careful starting and ending calls while driving. Those seconds matter.