8/7/2012 11:39 PM

Keeping Your Eyes On the Road and Off the Cell Phone

The increase use of cell phones has lead to the rise of the number of people who use this device while driving.  As convenient and simple as this modern day technology may be, there’s also responsibility that comes along with it.  There are several dangers associated with driving and cell phone use with the main cause being driver distraction.  When people become too absorbed in their conversation, text messages, or Web surfing, this may lead to near crashes or crashes which can be fatal. Texting while driving has become a growing trend and is one of the country’s top killers.  Drivers assume they can handle texting while driving but the numbers don’t lie.

Here are some causes as a result of texting and driving:

~According to the National Safety Council, texting causes 1,600,000 accidents per year. 

~330,000 injuries per year, as reported by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis Study 

~11 teen deaths EVERY DAY, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts 

~25% of nearly ALL car accidents

Texting while driving is about six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated and is almost the same as driving after four beers (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration). It’s also the number one driving distraction reported by teen drivers.  In March 2012, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a video study that found that teenage girls are twice as likely as boys to use cell phones while driving.   

Texting While Driving: 

~Makes you 23 times more likely to crash (National Highway Transportation Safety     Administration) 

~Is the same as driving blind for 5 seconds at a time (VA Tech Transportation Institute) 

~Slows your brake reaction speed by 18% (Human Factors & Ergonomics Society) 

~Leads to a 400% increase with the eyes off the road   

As of June 2012, ten states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah, and Washington State have enacted laws banning the use of hand held cell phones while driving.  A number of cell phone companies are considering developing technology that will prevent people from receiving calls and texts while driving.  Also, many businesses are starting to prohibit workers from using cell phones while driving to conduct business. Over the past decade, several studies have been conducted on driver distraction focusing on the use of cell phones.  

Supporters of restrictions driving while using a cell phone argue that the distractions associated with this task are far greater than other distractions.  Opponents of cell phone restrictions say that drivers should be educated about the effects of all driver distractions, and that existing laws should be more strictly enforced. Cell phones are here to stay but the benefits they offer must be judged against the hazards they pose and their contribution to the problem of distractive driving.

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