Every driver has done it – or felt the pressure to do it – at least once: Your phone rings while you are driving and you can’t bear to let it go to voicemail, or you hear a text or e-mail alert go off and curiosity gets the better of you. In New York, there is a ban on using handheld devices while driving, as well as texting while driving, which both carry heavy penalties and fines. The number one cause of unintentional deaths in the United States is car crashes, and since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and it is time to begin taking this hazard seriously and take the pledge to stay off your phone – the primary distractor – while driving. Take a look at these surprising statistics from the National Safety Council about cell phone and hands-free cell phone use:
- At any given time, 9% of drivers across the country are talking on a cell phone while on the road.
- Drivers who are on their cell phone are four times more likely to get in an accident.
- About 25% of all car crashes involve cell phone use, including hands-free features, such as an earpiece, dashboard system, or speakerphone. 21% of these crashes occur when people are having a conversation on the phone, and 4% occur as a result of text messaging.
- More than 30 studies have shown that hands-free devices are no safer than handheld cell phones.
- According to studies, the activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 1/3 when listening to someone talking over the phone – meaning your brain is less able to recognize and respond to moving things while you are talking on the phone.
- Your field of view narrows by 50% when talking on any kind of cellphone – not because you can’t see things, but you are so distracted that your brain can only process half of what you would normally see.
- Studies show that using voice-to-text is more distracting than typing texts by hand.
- Even with the statistics of accidents caused while a driver as on a cell phone, fatal accidents with cell phone involvement are believed to be massively underreported.
- Though many people try to argue that having a conversation with a passenger while driving is just as dangerous as having a conversation on a cell phone, studies have shown that passengers are more likely to point out dangers on the road and respond to traffic changes by stopping the conversation when traffic conditions become challenging, thus making it safer to talk to a passenger than to talk on a phone.
Put a Stop to Distracted Driving
Turn your phone off, and put it somewhere in your car out of your field of vision, such as in the glove compartment or in the backseat, and leave it there. Take the pledge to be a safe driver at Distraction.gov, the US Government Website for Distracted Driving. Besides just signing the pledge, put it up somewhere where you and others in your family (such as teen drivers) will see it, such as by where you keep the car keys, or even in the car. Also, make sure you and your family members are aware of the texting stops on the Long Island Expressway and other major highways across the state, so that if you just have to check your phone, you can pull off into one of these stops and check it safely.
Below is a video from the National Safety Council about the high cost of Distracted Driving. Click here to visit their official YouTube Page, and view all of the NSC's informative videos.