By: Dr. Jonathon Woods
We’ve heard it before and we will hear it again: distracted driving is “driving under the influence” and cell phone use has rapidly become THE #1 culprit. You can change this !!!
Up to 90% of all car crashes are caused by driver error
At any moment, 9% of people driving are talking on cell phones
An estimated 26% of all car crashes involve cell phone use
2 out of 3 drivers report talking on their cell phone as least once in the past 30 days. 1 in 3 report doing so “fairly often” or “regularly”.
Most car crashes are caused by car malfunctions
NO – car malfunctions constitute a small percentage, likely less than 10%
Driver error is far and away the most common cause of car crashes
Drivers can multitask
NO – multiple studies point to the inability of the human brain to truly “multitask”. Instead of simultaneously doing 2 thinking tasks, the brain more typically switches back and forth between the tasks, invariably leaving one task with considerably less attention.
Talking to someone on a cell phone is no different than talking to someone in the car
NO – numerous studies have demonstrated that drivers talking on cell phones are more oblivious to changing traffic conditions
NO – interestingly, extra adult passengers offer an “extra set of eyes” and have been shown to help keep drivers alert to oncoming traffic problems.
NO – these adult passengers also modulate their conversation in response to changing driving conditions, something that a person on the other end of a phone conversation cannot possibly do.
Hands-free devices eliminate the danger of cell phone use during driving
NO – the brain activity area that processes moving images is up to 1/3 less active when listening to or talking on a phone
NO – talking on any kind of cell phone results in “inattention blindness” where the drivers field of view is reduced by up to 50%!
Drivers talking on cell phones still have a quicker reaction time than those who are driving under the influence of alcohol.\
NO – drivers using cell phones have slower reaction times than drivers with a 0.08 blood alcohol content (the legal intoxication limit)
The main difference: drivers talking on cell phones can immediately eliminate their risk by hanging up the phone! (not the case for drunk drivers…)
The Essential Trio requirements for driving:
1. Eyes on the road 2. Hands on the wheel 3. Mind on driving
For more information:
National Safety Council website on distracted driving
National Transportation Safety Board slide presentation on the impact of hands-free cell phone use
Interesting related video: Vintage 1953 NSC training film on distracted driving