If you decide to turn off your phone for your commute home, are you less likely to get into a car crash than if you were talking on it? It’s possible, but a new study suggests that merely thinking about your phone can cause crashes, and hence qualify as “distracted driving.” If you’re worried about missing a call while your phone is off during the drive, is that in itself dangerous?

According to the study, just thinking about receiving a text or a phone call while driving is enough to raise the risk of a car accident. Researchers noticed a link between people more attached to their phones and the number of car accidents they were involved in.

For the study, 384 psychology students were surveyed about their level of “cellphone attachment.” Researchers then followed them over a three-year period. Those who were found to be least attached to their phones got into 25 car crashes per 100 people annually. On the other end of the spectrum, those most attached to their phones got into 38 crashes per 100 people. That seems to indicate a link between car accidents and attachment to cellphones.

What really matters, researchers say, is what’s going on in your head. Sometimes that can be far more distracting then answering a phone call. It’s always good to think twice before picking up a cellphone while driving. Perhaps is also good to have a clear mindset before getting behind the wheel.

Source: The Atlantic, “Can simply thinking about your phone lead to a car crash?” Brian Fung, April 30, 2012