With a steady rise in cell phone related car accidents, distracted driving is becoming more and more of a hot button issue among legislators and drivers alike. On Tuesday December 13, 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urged states to put forth efforts to ban all cell phone use among motor vehicle drivers.
We recently reported on NTSB’s push for cell phone bans among commercial truck drivers following a devastating trucking accident which claimed the lives of 11 people in Munford, Kentucky. But an August 5, 2010 four-vehicle crash which resulted in two deaths and 38 injuries has motivated the board to urge a ban on all non-emergency cell phone use for all drivers.
Although the NTSB does not have the authority to legislate, the board’s unanimous recommendation promises to spark much debate on the issue of distracted driving. Members of the NTSB are calling for a ban not only on the use of hand-held cell phones but on hands-free devices as well. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt is being widely quoted, by CNN for example, after referring to distracted driving as “the new DUI.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the year 2010 saw 3,092 traffic fatalities due to distracted driving. Cell phone use—particularly texting while driving—is becoming an epidemic in America, one which requires immediate attention.
The problem: While more and more states are implementing bans on cell phone use in motor vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety makes the claim that these bans result in little to no change in traffic crashes. Whether banned or not, many people will continue to use their cell phones while they drive. In response to this issue, many car manufacturers are developing new technologies which promise to make in-car communication safer and more productive.
The video below, provided by CNN, features Ford researcher Jim Buczkowski discussing the voice-activated Sync system. The goal for Sync and similar systems is to enable drivers to make phone calls while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
Why can’t that driver next to me stop texting while driving?
According to a recent University of Kansas research study, texting is like any addiction. The study was done by Paul Atchley, Ph.D. , an associate professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Kansas. Texting is a social behavior, and that desire to stay connected is extremely powerful because it taps directly into your brain’s reward system. You want that next hit, and that “bing” on your smartphone provides that next hit of social acceptance.
As of the present date, 34 states have banned texting while driving. But legislating the issue does not necessarily solve the problem. Therefore, as a motorist, it’s a good idea to learn to protect yourself on the highway. Other multicasting motorists give signals. Texting or otherwise distracted drivers generally:
For years, Stuart A. Carpey has been an active member of Teens Against Distracted Driving (TADD), a program which aims to educate teens on the dangers of multitasking at the wheel. Now, in addition to these efforts, Stuart is teaming up with End Distracted Driving (EndDD.org) to do even more in the fight against accidents caused by inattention.
EndDD.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the number of auto accidents caused by driver distraction. The organization was founded in 2009 and has been expanding ever since, enlisting skilled speakers to spread the word about their cause. Stuart A. Carpey is now one of those speakers.
If you know of any group, community organization, or school which you feel could benefit from a presentation on the subject of distracted driving, please contact Stuart at [email protected] He speaks on the subject free of charge. His presentations are compelling and important for teens and adults alike.
You may be aware that the largest culprit for this growing danger is the use of cell phones–particularly texting–at the wheel of a car. But there are more ways to become distracted than just using your cell phone. Here are the three major forms of driver distraction:
Visual Distraction — Occurs when you take your eyes off the road.
Manual Distraction — Occurs when you take your hands off the wheel.
Cognitive Distraction — Occurs when you are taking your mind off of driving.
Cell phone use distracts drivers in all three of these ways, which is why it has become the primary focus in anti-distraction campaigns led by organizations like TADD and EndDD. But you should keep in mind that any activity which causes a driver to be visually, manually, or cognitively distracted is a serious danger to everyone on the road. These distractions can include applying makeup, reading a map, changing radio stations, holding a pet while driving, and even eating.
If you feel that distracted driving is an issue which requires attention, ask Stuart A. Carpey to come and speak at your school, office, or other organization. Remember: The best way to fight the spread of accidents caused by distracted driving is through increased awareness.