Using Hands-Free Cellphones is Risky…
Regretful Distracted Driving Situation
January 2004, 4pm, Grand Rapids, MI – a 20 year old woman ran a red light while talking on her cellphone.
She smashed into a vehicle crossing the green light in front of her. The vehicle she hit was not the first car through the green light. It was the third or fourth. The police investigation proved the driver never even touched her brakes and was traveling at almost 50 miles per hour at impact.
The accident resulted in the passing of a 12 year old boy. Watch his story.
During the investigation, witnesses stated the driver was looking forward straight out the windshield, not dialing the phone or texting, and sped past four cars as well as a school bus stopped on the other side of the street.
The above is a definitive case of “inattention blindness” caused by the cognitive distraction of a cellphone conversation.
Unfortunately, distracted driving accidents are an all too common occurrence. This can happen to anyone from any walk of life, including a company’s fleet drivers while on the job.
Hands-Free Doesn’t Prevent a Distracted Driving Occurrence
As everyone knows, vision is the most important of the senses for driving. Yet, drivers engaging in cellphone conversations, hands-free or on the cell phone, have a propensity to “look” but not “see” objects right in front of them.
Studies show that drivers having cellphone conversations do not process up to 50% and possibly even more of the information that is vital to their driving environment. This is called “inattention blindness,” very similar to the effects of tunnel vision.
Drivers are looking straight ahead out the windshield and do not process critical factors of what is necessary to have a safe driving experience. Instead, they are engulfed in their phone conversation or text and do not take careful note of their surroundings, noticing potential hazards and thus, do not have the ability to react quickly to unexpected situations.
Drivers Admit to Driving and Texting
As, many states are “doing the right thing” by making it illegal to use a cellphone while driving, including texting, many drivers still admit to using their cellphones while driving.
Every year since 1994, approximately 43,500 people have lost their lives in car accidents. That’s almost 900,000 lives lost up to now. It includes people inside and outside of vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians, as well.
The lives lost each year on American roads, is equivalent to the lives that would be lost from a 100 passenger jet crashing every day for a year. Add to those fatalities more than 2.2 million injuries a year and you will start to understand why driver distraction is such a significant problem.
To reduce this kind of loss of life and injuries, deterrence must focus on the top factors associated with car accidents. Driver distraction has become one of the top causes of fatal and serious injuries, joining alcohol and speeding.
The National Safety Council states that almost 25 percent of all accidents in 2010 happened because of cell phones, accounting for almost 1.1 million crashes that year. Practically five percent of crashes are estimated to be caused by texting.
The driver that caused the crash above was on the phone with her church at the time, where she volunteered, helping children the same age of the boy who lost his life. She pled guilty to negligent homicide, changing the course of two families forever. Countless numbers of similar accidents happen every single day.
About Distracted Driving
The Federal Government and employers are taking action to reduce car accidents due to driver distraction:
- An Executive order has been signed by the President banning Federal employees from texting while driving on the job.
- A National Safety Council membership survey’s results show that employers of all sizes, sectors and industries are implementing employee policies banning talking and texting while driving during working hours.
- Public opinion polls show the majority of the public supports these efforts.
As it appears on the surface that technology is helping with cellphone use while driving as well as texting, it is not. As positive as “hands-free” devices are in helping alleviate two known risks, there is still a third.
There are three types of distracted driving that takes lives and causes injuries:
- Removing hands from the wheel;
- Looking away from the road;
- Cognitive distraction – the driver taking their mind and thoughts off the road and into the conversation or text on the cellphone.
As people today have the “need” to stay connected and productive even while driving, isn’t saving lives a better decision to make? You decide.
Distracted Driving Prevention – Here’s what You can do to Make a Difference:
- Tell your family, friends and business contacts that you do not answer, talk or text on the phone while driving.
- When you start your car, turn your cellphone off.
- When your cellphone rings, if you must answer, carefully and safely pull off to the side of the road and answer it.
- If you must make a call, get off the road and park in a safe place, then make your call.
- Do not think you are “above others” and can talk and text more carefully. You cannot.
Do you know what your drivers are doing in the field?
Distracted Driving Statistics:
- Currently, there are more than 320 million wireless connections in the U.S.
- An average of 171.3 billion texts are sent every month.
- At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cellphones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.
- National Safety Council estimates one in four car accidents are a result of cellphone usage.
- Motor vehicle accidents are the top two causes of injury and death according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
- Every year there are more U.S. soldiers killed in privately-owned vehicles than all other Army ground casualties combined.
- Car accidents are the #1 cause of work-related death.
Learn More about GPS Fleet Tracking and How it can Help Improve Driver Accountability.
Speak with a Fleet Advisor today. We’ll walk you through the driver safety features GPS Trackit provides, and the many advantages of adopting a GPS tracking system for your business. We’ll also help you calculate the return on your investment so you can make a smart financial decision.
Go to D!STRACTION.GOV and commit to “Distraction Free Driving.” Distracted driving accidents are a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2011 alone, over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving crashes.
Does your company, business or fleet have a cellphone policy? This free downloadable kit for employers from the National Safety Council provides ready-to-use materials to build leadership support for a cellphone policy, and communicate to employees the crash risks and need for this potentially life saving policy. Provides sample policies and numerous turnkey communications.