When It Comes to Driving, Cell Phones Might be Just as Dangerous as Alcohol

Almost every teen is guilty of it and it is potentially one of the most dangerous things drivers can do – texting while driving. Last month, WCTV investigated exactly how receiving and responding to a text message impacted driving.

Teens were asked to navigate a maze of cones while texting. None of the students who took the texting and driving challenge were successful – each of them hit cones. Using the same course law enforcement officers use to train driving, the participants wore seat belts and had a driving instructor with them the entire time. They were required to keep moving, but not to exceed 30 miles per hour.

Observers noted that when receiving the message, all of the drivers swerved or significantly slowed. The message instructed them to spell out the days of the week in order. Many missed days or misspelled words. The participants, who called the practice of texting while driving prevalent among their peers, indicated it was an eye opening experience. The driving instructor agreed, noting, “Two to three seconds and it could be all over with.”

The Florida Highway Patrol now has a specific drop down menu allowing them to track accident related distractions. It will be the first time Florida has a way to track how often texting is a factor in car accidents. Driving with distractions is a major cause of accidents.

In addition to driving a car while texting, driving while talking on a cell phone can also be dangerous. According to the National Safety Council, 25% of auto accidents involve cell phone use. While 62% of drivers recognize the danger, 66% admit to using a cell phone while driving. These statistics are part of the reason the NSC has created an On the Road, Off the Phone campaign.

June is National Safety Month and June 26-30 is dedicated to safety while driving. As a result, the NSC kicked off its On the Road, Off the Phone Campaign in June. It is meant to raise awareness about the dangers of using cell phones while driving. The campaign offers suggestions to help you avoid the temptation to use your phone while driving, including locking it in the trunk or glove box. Ultimately, On the Road, Off the Phone seeks to end cell phone usage while driving.

I am in complete agreement with banning texting while driving because texting requires too much looking away from the road. However, talking on the phone while driving can be done with far less distraction. I am sure some people should not ever talk and drive. Furthermore, there are some driving maneuvers that should not be done while talking on the phone. However, I am not certain whether I would support a complete ban on using a phone while driving a car. Of course I may just be trying to rationalize the fact that I do it all the time.


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