Remember when road rage was mainly triggered by rush hour traffic?   Recently, I was driving in local traffic near the university when a car in front of me was signaling left and made a sudden move to the RIGHT lane.   Okay, we all get confused.   In the next block the driver all of a sudden moved to the middle of the road between two lanes.  I slammed on my brakes and honked my horn.     When the driver finally pulled into one lane,  I moved up and saw the elderly woman driver clearly on her cell phone.   She looked at me as I motioned "get off your phone" and I don't think she had a clue why I was signaling her.   Within two city blocks I could have not one, but two accidents. Distracted driving is a dangerous and common practice, especially as more drivers are not just talking, they are texting.   According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3000 people died in car accidents in 2010 because drivers were texting, on the phone, or were distracted by something else  like eating, putting on makeup, etc.    Here are a few more stats:

  • Drivers who use mobile devices are four times more likely to have an accident and injure themselves or others.
  • Using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of having a blood alcohol concentration of .08%, the legal limit in most states.
  • Using a cell phone can reduce the brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
  • Car accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the U.S. and 16% of young drivers involved in fatal accidents were driving distracted.

There are laws prohibiting texting and phone use while driving in many states but there is  no simple way to enforce them as many police departments are stretched due to the economy and need to focus on major crime.   So, what can be done to stop this growing and careless habit?    Any ideas?

 

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Comments

I suggest that drivers be advised on how to drive safely for their and other peoples' lives. It's so dangerous to drive while making a call...Thanks for sharing this with us.

Whilst i agree with you 100%, its infuriating that people dont care about their own safety and more importantly that of others, i think we should not be policing the roads ourselves, leave it to the police. One of my friends was driving home, there was a car behind her with a lady on the phone, she indicated to her to not use the phone when they stopped at traffic lights, the other lady gave her the finger and a whole line of expletives and she actually feared for her safety when the other lady began to drive aggressively after this. The incident was reported to the police and the other lady was prosecuted successfully thankfully, but the outcome could have been so much worse.

using cell phones while driving is considered normal. in my opinion, to stop the bad habits that must be supported by many parties. including family or friends nearby to prohibit.

I entirely agree that distracted driving in all its forms is dangerous. However, singling out use of cell phones (not texting, just speaking) is overkill. Even as the articles states, "According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3000 people died in car accidents in 2010 because drivers were texting, on the phone, or were distracted by something else like eating, putting on makeup, etc." The operative portion being, "...or were distracted by something else... etc." Before phone usage is singled out for demonization, it must be understood that those people who cannot drive a few miles without engaging in mindless chatter WILL find something else to distract them even if cell phones were banned entirely from automobiles. They are just bad drivers. Period.

Using a mobile phone is one of my pet hates. In the UK it's illegal to use a phone while driving, but until the punishments get harsher, people won't stop doing it.

I actually would have to say its all of the above. Cell phones should be turned off while driving. They have been proven time and again to be a distraction. Even with just talking, your hand is often off the wheel and your mind is elsewhere.

Those who risk others lives because of their selfishness are very sad commentary on how uncaring some people are. I don't think anything will be done about it. For something to be done I think we have to tell those we see acting in such an immoral manner how sad such callous behavior is. It is very simple reading text, using the phone... will kill thousands and cause serious injuries to many more. Some people are proud of how immoral they are (many teenagers for example would be happy to say they don't care). More people are just so selfish they don't even notice what they do. It is possible we can get a large percentage of those who are so selfish they don't consider others to change. But that is not an easy thing to do. People that don't care about risking death or injury to others will continue to do so. If the social stigma against doing so is high enough many will stop. But even then some care so little about others they will continue to put others in danger with their selfish behavior.

That's definitely true and very frustrating when you realize someone is on the phone!

I don't know how many times I wandered out of my lane because of looking at my cell phone to make a call or read a text. I found this to be too dangerous for me and others on the road. Even before it was against the law in CA to text while driving, I have eliminated all those distraction for myself. Hopefully other will as well.

I agree that texting on your phone is incredibly dangerous and I will not do that while I drive. I do talk on my phone some, mostly on the highway and not in traffic. I really do think mandating no phone use is over the top and begins to infringe on personal rights. With that said the other night we almost got run off the road by a man exiting the highway swerving hard to the right and then back to the left. We really thought he was drunk. We allowed him to pass and stayed safely behind for a while. He still continued to struggle to stay on the road but we finally ended up pulling beside him only to see that he was talking on the phone. So I just don't know what the answer is...

In the UK it’s illegal to use a phone while driving, but until the punishments get harsher, people won’t stop doing it.

It is a sad reflection on our society that we cannot go without being "connected" while driving. How many more deaths on the road will it take to deliver the message? Even one more is too many. I wish there was a way for your mobile phone to be automatically disabled the moment you start your motor vehicle. The only way will be enforced exclusion. ~Marcus

Using cell phones while driving is considered normal but it is not a safe thing to do. In my opinion the drivers should be advised on how to drive safely for their and others lives. There should be a law to ban such people if caught from driving for atleast six months so they think twice before doing it again.

It is a fact that many people today use their cell phones while driving. The accident stats are scary but unfortunately very few people care much about them because you never think it will happen to.,until it does of course. Everyone knows the dangers of using a cell phone to call or text while driving and in my opinion until we find an effective way to stop this habit, the only thing that can be done is to educate people on the dangers of this habit and on alternatives to use like hands-free car kits.

It is difficult to say something to a person you see who is driving and texting if you are walking along, but the should be some kind of signal accorded among all people at this country to get their attention, some kind of hand and fingers position to show to someone we saw is texting and driving. Any ideas? EDITOR'S NOTE: I agree, the police do not have the time to monitor, how can we as people help?

I nephew of mine crashed his car while he was texting and driving at the same time. He wasn't arrested, but he lost his driving license forever. At least here at my country it is punished that way. EDITOR'S REPLY: This is certainly a way to make people think twice about texting while driving....maybe if more people realized this could happen, they would wake up.

I really feel more afraid of being hit by some person who were texting and driving at the same time than the supposed risk of cell phones producing cancer.

I think it is pathetic...can these people really not disconnect from their phones for 30mins or so? It angers me when I am driving and you see people looking down at their phones and paying no attention to the road ahead, it only takes a split second for something to happen and before they know it they are involved in a 5 car pileup and are responsible for the death or serious injury of the innocent people involved.

I must say though I do agree with the comment above that its not just talking on cell phones that can be distracting but talking in general. But I don't know that it would be as distracting. Sorry no evidence to back that up.

Awesome article!! We are a driving school and are big believers in getting this message out to young people

The other reason I have to avoid it is that one of my friens resulted seriously injured in a car crash she caused by texting while driving, but in that crash she didn't see the red light and passed by without any caution. Please, be very careful to not TEXT while you are driving, don't wait until YOU HAVE THE SAME EXPERIENCES AS US.

i dont understand it with these drivers, its just common sense to concentrate on driving and not do anything else. if they want to call or text someone or reply, then they have to stop somewhere else or make the caller wait and tell the person on the other line that they are driving. there are so many car accidents already here caused by those people that drive and call/text at the same time. seriously... this offense should be fined heavily, the heavy the fine maybe the less desire will people have to text/call and drive.

Minnesota passed a law 4 years ago that made it illegal to text while driving. Statistics show that for 2011 only 1300 tickets were issued for texting while driving. This is a small fraction of the 30,000 tickets that were issued for drunk driving in Minnesota, or the 200,000 tickets issued for speeding. Anecdotal evidence, however, would suggest that the texting behavior is far more common. Right now law enforcement has great difficulty showing that the driver was actually texting as opposed to speeding or driving under the influence. Cell phone use leading to distracted driving really is a widespread, extremely dangerous activity. The legal system needs to increase the penalty beyond the current fine of $120 and develop more efficient technology that would permit law enforcement to quickly check the driver's cell phone number for recent communication.

I suggest that drivers be advised on how to drive safely for their and other peoples’ lives. It’s so dangerous to drive while making a call…Thanks for sharing this with us.

The best idea is what you are doing here and that is continuing to raise awareness. Yes, we do need to continue to put laws on the books but education in conjunction with the laws is the best solution. Check out the very informative graphic by zautos.com illustrating the dangers of distracted driving: http://zautos.com/distracted-driving-infographic-dangers-of-distracted-driving/

Without a doubt, driving on the phone causes a major distraction to the driver, but it also causes a distraction to other motorists who notice such activity in another vehicle. I strongly support the penalties associated with mobile phone drivers.

well I also agree with you almost 90% of road accidents are caused because of the use of phones while driving

Many peope , especially younger drivers, tend to talk and text on their mobile phones while driving. It has over taken drunk driving for number of accidents related to it. I am not one for over regulation by government but when it comes to this I think every sate should have very strict and severe penalties for texting while driving. And they should enforce it. People will not stop risking their life and that of others until they see the penalties of breaking this law.

I have to say I disagree with just talking on the phone which can be annoying. Please, be careful to not TEXT while you are driving.

This is a difficult one to enforce because most people do it. In the UK for example when people get caught for speeding, they are forced to pay a penalty and attend some Intensive Driving Courses. I know some people that this helped as they could not face the thought of doing it again.

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