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Driver Distraction Responsible For 25% Of Accidents

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Image: P. Gordon

If the Governor’s Highway Safety Association is correct, up to one quarter of all traffic accidents are caused by drivers distracted by portable electronics. If that’s not a sobering enough statistic, the GHSA study revealed that drivers are distracted up to 50 percent of their time behind the wheel. It also confirmed what we already know: cellphone use and texting increase the risk of an accident, and texting increases the risk more than just talking on a cell phone.

Bluetooth headsets, or other hands-free devices, don’t make talking on a cell phone any safer. The brain can only process a limited number of complex tasks at the same time, and it looks like any telephone conversation distracts from the task of driving. Look at it this way: you have $1.00 to spend on concentration. Driving in good weather, in reasonable traffic, costs $0.45. Talking on the cell phone costs $0.35, but throw another variable into the mix and it’s easy to “overspend”. Swerving to avoid the brake drum that just fell out of the scrappers pickup two cars ahead of you costs $0.50. You’ve only got $0.20 left, so the result is quite likely an accident.

The report further stated that cell phone and texting bans aren’t all that effective. First, they can prove difficult to enforce, and police usually won’t pull over drivers for talking on the phone (unless there’s a regional, stepped up enforcement program in effect). Many drivers text with the phone near their lap, out of line of sight from police. You can’t enforce what you can’t see.

The GHSA’s recommendation is to pass a complete ban on cellphone use by novice drivers, and to ban texting by all drivers. That’s not too far a leap from current laws, which ban cell phone use for novice drivers in 30 states and the District of Columbia, and ban texting for all drivers in 34 states and Washington, DC. What’s your take? Do you cop to talking and driving? Texting and driving? Why or why not?

Source: Kicking Tires


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