PERSONAL INJURY 101: Cell Phone Distraction Causes One In Four US Car Crashes
Recent reports state the number of car crashes caused by cell phone use and texting while driving at 1.6 million – one million more than previously thought. Have you seen these drivers? With one hand their holding their cell phone trying to balance it to their ear. The other hand is clutching a cup of coffee. The question begs, which hand is driving?
It’s easy to tell when you’re driving behind someone on a cell phone. They’re not paying attention to the road! They speed up, change lanes unexpectedly, stop in the middle of the road – it’s frightening to drive near them. You see them weaving in their lane and driving slowly very similar to the impact of someone under the influence of alcohol.
A report in the New England Journal of Medicine compared the effects of using a cell phone while driving to the impact of driving legally drunk. While the study’s methodology has been criticized, eyewitness reports confirm the problem.
Researchers have long found that using a cell phone while driving dramatically impairs the ability to drive. It is not just the visual impairment, such as when a driver takes his eyes off the road when dialing a number or writing text. It’s the cognitive disconnect involved. The brain is focused on a virtual conversation, so it does not compute images that come into the driver’s view.
The National Safety Council released estimates that at least 28% of all traffic accidents involve drivers using cell phones and texting. They estimate that each year 1.4 million crashes involve drivers using cell phones. Tens of thousands additional accidents involve drivers who are texting.
It’s apparent that using a cell phone when driving is a very risky distraction and it’s obvious that texting is even higher risk. We now know that cell phone use is a factor in many more crashes than texting. The main reason is that millions more drivers use cell phones than text. That is why we need to address both texting and cell phone use on our roads. Our advice? Stay safe on the road, and leave your cell phone alone when driving. We urge all drivers to stay alert and drive defensively.