According to a recent report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there is no evidence that banning cell phone use while driving is effective. The report also states that hands-free phones are no less dangerous than handheld phones.
Despite this conclusion, the GHSA recommends that all states enact cell phone and texting bans. Currently, nine states prohibit all drivers from using handheld phones while driving, while 34 states have banned text messaging for all drivers. However, no state has banned all cell phone use for all drivers.
Cell phone use appears to be the most common type of act that distracted driving laws aim to prevent. Two-thirds of drivers have reported using a cell phone while driving, but distracted driving is a much broader concept. Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road is considered a distraction. Some examples include eating, drinking, using a GPS device, talking, grooming, reading directions or maps, watching portable televisions or changing the radio station.
While cell phone laws are a positive step toward reducing distracted driving, they should not be the primary motivation for people to stop using cell-phones while driving. The reality is that distracted driving is a very serious and potentially fatal problem.
According to distracted driving statistics compiled by Oklahoma Law, distracted drivers are 23 times more likely to cause an accident compared with drunk drivers who are seven times as likely to cause one, making them some of the most dangerous drivers on the road.
In fact, in 2009, out of 33,808 car crash deaths, reports indicate that 16 percent (or 5,474 cases) could be attributed to driver distraction. Even more staggering is that research suggests up to 80 percent of driver deaths could have involved distraction.
To reduce the possibility of distracted driving, here are some tips that will help everyone be safer on the road.
Turn off your phone before you get in the car.
Set up a special voice message to tell callers you are driving and you will get back to them as soon as possible. Pull over if you need to make a call. Ask a passenger to make important calls for you if the calls can’t wait.
Do not text, surf the Web or read emails. Become familiar with state and local laws before you get in the car.
Program your GPS device, review maps and read directions before you drive. Secure pets before you drive.
Do not argue with any passenger in the car.
Avoid any activity that will take your mind and eyes off the road.