Distracted Drivers Cause Many Car and Truck Accidents
Studies Show Distracted Drivers Are a Leading Cause of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Whenever you’re driving a car and your attention is not on your driving, the road and what is going on with regard to your driving responsibilities, you’re putting yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road, in jeopardy.
Mobile devices and cell phones have gotten a lot of negative media attention recently with regard to distracting drivers and causing accidents, but low-tech distractions also cause many traffic accidents.
Eating / Drinking in the Car and Dropping Things While Driving; #1 Distraction
Eating and drinking in the car distracts drivers. Most of us have spilled food or a drink in the car while we were driving – and we know how distracting that can be. Being distracted by other things in the car also causes accidents. In fact, these two things – consumables and distractions caused by dropping things are often cited as the most frequent distractions in causing car accidents, according to a study done by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS).
Radio, CD player / Music controls and Temperature Controls; #2 Leading Distraction
Fiddling with a radio or climate control system is the next most-cited distraction. Amazingly, some commuters regularly read the newspaper, shave, comb or brush their hair, or apply make-up on their way to the office. Apparently, the fact that they should be focused instead on their driving doesn’t seem to concern them. NETS as well as logic suggests that you should allow plenty of travel time, preset your climate control and radio, and put all reading material away prior to driving.
Driver Distraction is the Primary Cause for Car and Truck Accidents
In the late 1970s, Indiana University published its study entitled “Pre-crash factors involved in traffic accidents”. It identified driver inattention / driver distractions as the leading cause of automobile accidents.
Additionally, Mark Edwards, the Director of Traffic Safety at the American Automobile Association has stated that somewhere between 25-50 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in this country have driver distraction as their root cause.
Stressful or heated conversations can lead to driver distraction causing a car accident. Combining a distracting conversation made over a cell phone with driving is a formula for disaster. In some cases, the results have been fatal. Unfortunately, talking on the phone has become a way of life for millions of auto-bound Americans despite many laws that make it illegal. Some recent statistics produced by Prevention magazine indicate that more than 85 percent of the 100 million cell-phone subscribers regularly talk on the phone while driving,.
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A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that drivers who talk on a cell phone are four times more likely to be in a car accident than drivers who don’t.
Of course we all have seen distracted drivers talking on cell phones as they drift into other lanes, run through red lights or coast through stop signs. It’s all the more difficult when the car is a manual transmission, leaving no hand for the phone when one is on the wheel and the other is on the stick shift.
Newer phones address some of these problems allowing for the use of hands free technology. Recent developments include voice-activated dialing, built-in phones, headsets, and speaker phones. All of these technologies can help drivers concentrate on the roadway however, the truth is, if you are on the phone your mind is still distracted.
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Tips from The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association has some tips.
Get to know your mobile devices features especially speed dial and redial.
If possible, use a hands-free device, such as an earpiece or a phone cradle.
Position your cell phone within easy reach so that you are not frantically fumbling through your coat in the back seat or purse in the passenger side wheel well to retrieve a ringing phone.
Let the person you are speaking with know you are driving to make it easier to allow you to focus on your driving as compared to talking to them. When appropriate, suspend the call in heavy traffic or hazardous road or weather conditions.
Do not take notes or look up phone numbers while driving; postpone those activities and conversations for later.
Place calls when you are not moving or before pulling into traffic.
Do not engage in stressful conversations that may take your attention from your driving.
Keep conversations short. Simply state that you would prefer to postpone phone conversations for a time when you are not driving. Don’t use the cell phone for social visiting while you drive.
Hang up in tricky traffic situations– without warning when necessary. You can always explain later.
Some New Laws Now Make Cell Phone Use Illegal While Driving
Current prohibitions in Texas regarding hand held devices:
Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using wireless communications devices.
Learners permit holders are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in the first six months of driving.
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School bus operators are prohibited from using cell phones while driving if children are present.
Drivers are prohibited from using handheld devices in school crossing zones.
Dallas, San Antonio, Dallas, Amarillo, Galveston, El Paso, Missouri City, the Canyon and Stephenville are among the Texas cities that have enacted local distracted driving laws.
The full text of the law is found at: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/TN/htm/TN.545.htm#545.425
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