Distracted driving: what you need to know about driving and cell phones.
Last week, over 200 federal and state officials met to discuss the concerns over cell phone use and texting while driving. Cell phone use and texting are increasingly becoming a safety hazard to drivers on our highways and are a leading cause of car accidents.
In two separate studies, one published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 and a more recent 2005 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, found that drivers who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to be involved in traffic accidents than drivers who do not. This is not surprising. A 2006 University of Utah study that compared drunk drivers with drivers using cell phones found that drivers who use cell phones are just as impaired as, or perhaps even more impaired than, drunk drivers, even when using hands-free devices!
This is because drivers often pay more attention to their conversation or to their text messages than to what is happening on the road. Drivers using hand-held or hands-free cell phones drove slower, were slower to hit the brakes when necessary, were slower to resume to normal speed after braking. They also showed 24% more variation in following distance than undistracted drivers. Cell phones appear to slow reaction time!
According to the NHTSA, 80% of crashes are the result of driver distraction of some sort. Last year, 16% of traffic deaths were attributed to distracted driving. The Harvard Center of Risk Analysis found that cell phone use by drivers is responsible for about six percent of U.S. traffic accidents each year. That is approximately 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths nationwide. But, that number is growing. More than 100 million Americans use cell phones while driving.
In California, texting while driving is illegal. Drivers over 18 may use cell phones with a hands-free device. Although cell phone use is not the only type of driver distraction, it is an easy one to avoid. Pull over to make a call or give the phone to a passenger. There are very few phone calls that are as important as your life.
The conference concluded with the announcement of a ban on cell-phone use and texting while driving for all federal employees.
Even the safest driver may not be able to avoid an accident with a distracted driver. If you or someone you love has been injured because of driver inattention, a car accident attorney can help. Contact the attorneys at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis and Leslie at 949-752-7474 or toll free at 866-981-5596 for a free consultation.