I know so many people with kids these days its easier to count the people I know without them. I also know so many people with cellphones that I’d probably have to go to my grandmother in a nursing home to find someone who doesn’t. That’s what makes this little post so relevant.
I don’t know if it’s a distinctly American problem of what, but, in America, people on cellphones while they drive have some heavy duty statistics against them when it comes to getting into accidents. And with so many people I know driving their kids to and fro, I thought maybe this was a good piece to include in this month’s little subsection, for those of you who are stopping by to read. Let me say upfront I’m not trying to tell anyone what to do – and you know I’m not telling anyone how to drive. I’m just passing along some information. As always, do with it as you see fit.
Basically, a recent article in the NYTimes says that studies show people who talk on cellphones – hands free or not – get into more accidents, including fatal accidents, then those who don’t. It also says that most people think, despite the studies that they’re not the problem, they can handle calling and driving, it’s “the other guy” who can’t call and drive. Here are some excerpts from the article which you can read in its entirety here.
THE STATS: “Extensive research shows the dangers of distracted driving. Studies say that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers, and the likelihood that they will crash is equal to that of someone with a .08 percent blood alcohol level, the point at which drivers are generally considered intoxicated. Research also shows that hands-free devices do not eliminate the risks, and may worsen them by suggesting that the behavior is safe. A 2003 Harvard study estimated that cellphone distractions caused 2,600 traffic deaths every year, and 330,000 accidents that result in moderate or severe injuries.”
THE PROBLEM: “A disconnect between perception and reality worsens the problem. New studies show that drivers overestimate their own ability to safely multitask, even as they worry about the dangers of others doing it.”
ONE RATIONALE INVALIDATED: “Research also shows that drivers conversing with fellow passengers do not present the same danger, because adult riders help keep drivers alert and point out dangerous conditions and tend to talk less in heavy traffic or hazardous weather.”
ONE BOTTOM LINE OPINION: ““There is zero doubt that one’s driving ability is impaired when one is trying to have a cellphone conversation — whether hands-free or hand-held, it doesn’t matter,” said David E. Meyer, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.”
ANOTHER DISCOVERY: “Scientists are grappling, too, with perhaps the broadest question hanging over the phenomenon of distracted driving: Why do people, knowing the risk, continue to talk while driving? The answer, they say, is partly the intense social pressures to stay in touch and always be available to friends and colleagues. And there also is the neurological response of multitaskers. They show signs of addiction — to their gadgets”
Anyhow, just thought I’d pass it on. I know for my own part, it is tempting for me to check a text as soon as I get it – even when Im driving- or to call someone while I’m on the road- usually for a really important reason like to ask “Do you need anything at the store.” After reading this article, I’m not doing that anymore. I can’t 100% prevent myself from getting in a car accident- that’s why they call it an accident. But if using a phone ups my chances of crashing, it’s worth being incommunicado behind the wheel. I’m just saying.