Serious Injuries and Fatalities from Auto Collisions have become almost epidemic in the United States. In the last 10 years, the US has had over 500,000 automobile related fatalities. Few of us take the time to ponder the possibility that we are actually operating a potential “lethal weapon". While DUI and Excessive Speed are statistically the leading cause of fatalities and severe injuries, distractions is third and rising rapidly.
In our fast paced techno society, multi-tasking has progressively worked its way into our normal driving habits. Multi-tasking is considered to be a mixture of things that takes a drivers attention away from the road with cell phones (and text messaging) being added to the list in the last decade. Over Younger drivers in particular consider cell phones as an extension of their lives using them at will and for extended periods while driving their cars.
The exact number of collisions caused by drivers distracted using a cell phone is still not clear due to the way data was collected at the scene in the past. However, the current estimate is that Cell Phone Distraction causes about 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the US annually.
Growing statistical data and studies show that a driver's attention span is severely challenged while talking on a cell phone. More recent studies from the UK clearly indicate that a driver's reaction time using a cell phone is actually slower than a driver that is legally DUI - even in hands-free mode. Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004 showed that drivers talking on cell phones were 18 percent slower reacting to brake lights, and they took 17 percent longer to regain the speed once they brake.
There are a growing number of States and Countries around the world that have enacted laws limiting or banning cell phone use while driving. At least 49 countries (including most industrialized nations) and 24 States have partial or complete bans on using cell phones while driving.
- Should States enact laws that limit or ban the use of cell phones while driving? Or should the government stay out of it allowing High School Drivers Education Programs, Defensive Driving Schools and Public Service Announcements to educate citizens.
- Is using a cell phone while driving a “fundamental right"? Or is it a significant Safety Risk that the government has a responsibility to regulate.
What do you think? Go to our Web Site Blog to take our survey and leave comments for others to read including State Legislators.
Rick Adams is the Director of the Nations Traffic Safety School . Nations has campus locations in Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee. The school has 4 Hour, 8 Hour and 12 Hour courses. We have over 3,000 students take our Defensive Driving courses annually.