“Death by Cell Phone” is a new outdoor advertising campaign from the National Safety Council.
It’s not surprising that drivers overestimate their skills and underestimate the harmful and fatal effects of distractions caused by a growing number of other activities while they drive. What is surprising is the lack of regulation from governments and their safety agencies as study after study shows that the problem is growing as automakers expand their marketing of electronic devices or systems, such as Bluetooth, that ease their use.
More than 100 million people are now engaging in dangerous distracted driving behavior each day while driving. Particularly dangerous is the widespread use of cell phones. The issue is not the type of phone a driver uses, rather it is the distraction caused by the conversation. That’s the reason the National Safety Council urged a total ban on using them while driving earlier this year after conducting research that confirmed previous studies on just how dangerous they are.
NSC said cell phone use while driving contributes to 6% of crashes, or 636,000 wrecks, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries, and 2,600 deaths each year. NSC estimates the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion.
The latest research released today by the AAA Foundation confirms the growing problem of the disconnect between behaviors that drivers know are dangerous and their continued practicing of them. Overall, the majority of American motorists reported to AAA that they feel no safer now than they did five years ago while driving.
A previous AAA Foundation survey found two out of three drivers mistakenly believe using a hands-free cell phone is safer than talking on a hand-held device. In this survey, the use of a hands-free cell phone was the only behavior that more than half of all drivers rated as acceptable, yet numerous other scientific studies have shown it is equally as dangerous as talking on a hand-held phone, both quadruple your risk of being in a crash.
But Not While Driving
Motorists know this intuitively, and rated distracted driving as a top threat, with 80% seeing it as a very serious threat to their safety. Even those who admitted to distracted driving acknowledged they were putting themselves in danger. And more than half of those who admitted to reading or sending text messages or e-mails while driving indicated they were much more likely to have an accident.