Talking while driving…A big NO-NO!
Drivers are constantly reminded not to use their phones while behind the wheel, but a new study reminds us just how dangerous it is.
The National Safety Council’s annual injury and fatality report, “Injury Facts,” found that the use of cell phones causes 26% of the nation’s car accidents, a modest increase from the previous year.
Only 5% of cell phone-related crashes occur because the driver is texting. The majority of the accidents involve drivers distracted while talking on handheld or hands-free cell phones. Talking can be more dangerous than texting while operating a vehicle, and the use of talk-to-text applications is not a solution.
In early 2013, the four biggest cell phone companies launched their first joint advertising campaign against texting while driving. Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile united behind AT&T’s “It Can Wait” advertising campaign, warning their customers against the misuse of their own devices.
However, hands-free cell phone use has become a driving force in cell phone-related distractions of those behind the wheel. Studies published as early as 2009, such as a report in the Journal of Safety Research, have said that driving performance while using a hands-free phone was rarely found to be better than using handheld devices.
In the full NSC report, the organization lists and rates different tasks in relation to the effect they have on a driver’s mental workload, using data collected from a cognitive study. On the cognitive distraction scale, driving and talking on a handheld phone has a 2.45 workload rating, and driving while talking on a hands-free cell phone has a 2.27 workload rating.
On the same scale, using the speech-to-text application while driving has a 3.06 workload rating.
According to NSC’s website, there have been an estimated 245,358 car crashes involving drivers using cell phones so far this year. One effect cell phone use has on drivers is an increased reaction time, which is similar regardless of handheld or hands-free phone use.
Using data from 2011, NSC partnered with Nationwide Insurance to report the most accurate number of fatalities caused by cell phone-related vehicular accidents. National data show cell phones were involved in 350 fatal crashes in 2011.
The 2014 NSC report says the percent of drivers observed manipulating handheld electronic devices increased from 0.9% in 2010 to 1.3% in 2011.
The data collected on accidents and fatalities caused by cell phone use on the road is said to be under-reported due to the lack of drivers willing to admit to using their phones.