We often hear about how dangerous using cell phones is while driving; but in reality, the situation is even worse then we previously thought. In fact, the scary statistics that contributed to previously reported distracted driving numbers are only a fraction of a larger, more dangerous portait.
“The truth is, we’re only seeing a piece of the picture,” said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association.
“How many drivers are going to come out and admit guilt?” asked Danny Zhou, an analyst with Edmunds.com.
Federal regulators report that at any moment of the day 11 percent of motorists are talking on a cellphone. In addition to phone conversations, the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that 26 percent of 16 and 17-year-olds said they have texted while driving, despite laws in 34 states that ban it. This means that at any moment of the day a huge percentage of drivers are either distracted due to talking or texting on their cellphones.
“When you’re looking down at your texting device when you’re behind the wheel of a car, your car goes the length of a football field in 4 seconds and you’re not looking,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “That’s dangerous.”
To make the situation even worse, these findings don’t take into account the growing list of distractions such as smartphone or in-car apps that offer on-demand horoscopes, sports scores, stock prices, weather updates, news, movie listings, etc. When adding these factors to the already large percentage of phone calling and texting drivers, it seems like most drivers are car accidents waiting to happen.
So what can authorities do to improve the safety of drivers and cut down on the distractions? The quick and simple answer is step up the effort of police officers in enforcing the current cell phone ban, but in reality, perhaps a technological solution might be needed for this technological problem.
Some examples of tech solutions are a new breed of safe driver phone apps that prevent the phone from displaying calls or texts while the car is in motion, or perhaps coming up with a mandatory in-car device that jams the phone signal while the car is in motion. Some argue that hands-free devices are safer, when in actuality, they aren’t.
The only way to ensure that you won’t be distracted on the road is to simply hang up and drive. Anyone you need to talk to will be there when you get home, and fortunately, because of your safe driving habits, you’ll still be around to make that call.