We have all heard of things we should not do when driving, but most of us underestimate the effects that mobile phone use has on a driver. That text or call could cost you your life or could cost the life of another person using the roads. Read on to find out the hard-hitting facts underlying the problem of driver distraction.
Using a mobile phone is a distraction, research suggests
Driver distraction and mobile phone use is increasingly something we all need to recognise if we are to reduce fatalities on our roads. Mr Noel Brett, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority expressed his concern at the numbers of people who continue to use their mobile phone when driving: “Using a handheld mobile phone when driving a car is not only against the law, it’s a distraction. Simply put, you incur four times the risk of being involved in a collision if you use your mobile phone while driving. Furthermore, research…suggests that using a hands-free mobile phone is no safer than using a handheld phone. Yet many people continue to use their mobile phones in the car, with no regard for their safety, their passengers’ safety or the safety of others…”.
It has been estimated that between 20 and 30% of road collisions are caused by drivers’ attention being diverted from the road. The RSA suggests that mobile phones are among the worst driver distraction culprits, with children also featuring highly on the list. Other distractions include drinking, eating and trying to reach objects.
The trend towards more and more in-car smartphone use
Worryingly, the use of smartphones while driving is increasing with surveys indicating that around 1/3rd of drivers admit they speak on a hands-free phone when driving and 1 in 7 admitting to the use of handheld phones when driving. Even though the use of hands-free devices is seen as a much safer way to speak when driving, more and more statistics indiciate that just speaking over the phone is distracting and unsafe. Moroever, the use of smartphones in cars offers an array of distractions from the core principles of keeping eyes, hands and mind on driving all the time.
Texts and driver distraction
Text messaging is something that also represents a major potential distraction to even the safest of drivers. Research indicates that drivers spend more time with their eyes off the road when text messaging. Obviously, their reactivity is strongly reduced as a result.
What is being done and what can we do?
Some telecommunications companies are so concerned at the impact of these trends that they are launching hard-hitting campaigns to highlight the dangers. US telecoms provider AT&T devised the ‘It Can Wait’ campaign which aims to highlight the danger of driver distraction. The simple question “was that last text worth it?!” gives us food for thought about those things we simply can’t change after a car accident has occurred.