Guest Post by: Charles Norris
For years, you’ve been warned that driving while chatting away on a cell phone is not only distracting, but also dangerous. In fact, according to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, approximately 2,600 people are killed each year due to cell phone related crashes. The center also reported that an additional 333,000 were injured because of motorists distracted by their cell phones.
To combat the problem of motor-mouth motorists, some states and localities have restricted the use of cell phones while driving. For example, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported that it is now illegal in 11 states to use a cell phone while driving unless the motorist is using a hands-free device. These types of changes were made because most people believe that a motorist is less distracted if his hands are on his steering wheel rather holding a phone to his ear. Now, however, research is showing that hands-free technology is not nearly as safe as the public has been led to believe.
Is Your Facebook Status that Important?
According to a recent study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the new hands-free and voice-activated technologies that allow motorists to not only talk but also text are actually as distracting, if not more distracting to drivers than non-hands-free devices. How much more distracting? The AAA study showed that a driver who was talking on a cell phone, whether he was using his hands or not, rated between a 2.3 and 2.5 distraction level on a scale of 1-5.
In comparison, a driver using the voice-to-text feature to ask a device to look up a phone number, take down an email, change his Facebook status or control a GPS system was rated at a 3.06 distraction level. It was noted though, that the AAA study only focuses on cognitive thinking and leaves visual and manual aspects when comparing the two out.
What You Can Do?
The AAA report is a real eye-opener and many experts believe that it shows the importance of minimizing or banning the use of cell phones, even hands-free, altogether while driving. Realistically, however, most lawmakers realize that a ban on all cell phone use won’t work because people today are just too tied to their devices. However, there are certain things that you can do that will allow you to use cell phones in a safer manner.
Good Cell Phone Coverage
Every time you lose a phone call and have to redial, your eyes must leave the road. Of course, drivers are always counseled not to dial while driving, but the harsh reality is that most motorists who lose connection in the middle of a call will be tempted to redial the party they were just speaking with. This is just one example of being unsafe on the road even if you’re trying not to. Having excellent coverage will reduce your need to redial. For example, people who have to engage in work-related phone calls will want to pick the best cell phone coverage with T-Mobile so that they will experience fewer dropped calls.