By now, most Americans are aware of the dangers associated with driving while using a cellphone. But injury prevention experts are calling attention to a few surprising facts about distracted driving to encourage safe practices at the wheel.
Cellphone distractions lead to fatalities in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky State Police, in 2013 there were 955 collisions on Kentucky roads in which cellphone use was listed as a contributing factor. Six of these 955 collisions involved a fatality.
These numbers represent only the cases where the officer had clear evidence of cellphone involvement.
Hands-free devices are unsafe, too. The NSC reports an estimated one in four crashes involve cellphone distraction, hand-held and hands-free. Unlike talking and chewing gum, driving and talking on a cellphone are both thinking tasks, and the brain must focus first on one task, then the other.
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It appears that a person is doing both tasks at once, but the reality is that attention is shifting back and forth, and it only takes a brief shift to cause a roadway disaster.
While driving, talking to someone on a cellphone is different than talking to a passenger in the car. Another adult in the car, or "backseat driver," is more likely to also be watching the road and will help alert drivers to road conditions or oncoming traffic problems. Driving while talking on a cellphone, on the other hand, places the driver, and others, at unnecessary risk.
Text messaging by voice dictation is a considerable hazard for drivers. New studies show that using voice to text is even more distracting than typing a text by hand.
Car crashes are the number one cause of workplace deaths. Companies have paid millions for cell-phone related crashes. When surveying companies of all sizes who issued total bans on cellphone use, the NSC discovered only 1 percent of employers saw a productivity decrease.
Learn as much as possible and to teach others about distracted driving with cellphones. As part of the National Safety Council's Distracted Driving Awareness Month throughout April, we are providing free learning materials, video links and explanations to educate drivers on this important issue.
To access a fact sheet about distracted driving from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, go to www.mc.uky.edu/kiprc/PDF/DistractedDriving.pdf.
Make an informed decision to keep the roadways safe by driving cell free, and take the pledge to do so at http://www.nsc.org/forms/distracteddriving_pledge.aspx