The other day, while driving on Norvell Bryant Highway, a woman driver in front of me had her phone to her right ear. I gave myself plenty of room between her car and mine. Sure enough, her car drifted to the right and hit the curb. She immediately straightened out and without signaling cut over the lanes and turned into the Mobil station. Seeing this, I thought I’d check out phone use and auto accident statistics.
Every year in the U.S., almost a half million people are injured or killed in traffic accidents attributed to the combination of texting and driving. With the latest statistics available as of 2018, in 2015, according to statistics compiled by the Department of Transportation, 3,477 people died and another 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes caused by drivers who were texting or using cellphones. Should we call for the ban cellphones?
Text messaging has become an integral part of life for most people in the U.S. Young drivers, younger than 20, not only are avid text message users, they make up 27% of the drivers in fatal crashes that were attributed to distracted driving.
To make matters worse, people tend to read and answer text messages and cellphone calls immediately. The problem is that within the few seconds of time required to perform this activity, an accident can occur. The average time taken away from watching the road ahead is just five seconds and a vehicle traveling at 55 mph will go the length of a football field.
With attention distracted, it is like driving blindfolded. The results can and often are fatal.
Teen drivers say they expect an answer to text messages within five minutes or less. Even though 97% of them agree that texting or messaging while driving is dangerous, 43% of them still do it. Being warned about the dangers of texting while driving is widespread but ineffective.
Maybe technology is the answer. When the vehicle is moving and the phone is on, the car’s headlights should flash and the horn sound alerting other drivers and law enforcement that the driver may be on the phone and distracted.
Finally, according to a National Occupant Protection Use survey, women reach for their cellphones and other electronic devices like GPS while driving more frequently than men.
Gerard Del Vecchio