There's good reason the National Safety Council wants a ban on driving and cell phone use.
The National Safety Council released a white paper today describing the risks of using a cell phone while driving.
Titled “Understanding the distracted brain: Why driving while using hands-free cell phones is risky behavior,” it talks about the dangers of cell phones and hands-free devices, and the growing safety problems they pose. At any time, 11% percent of all drivers are using cell phones, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has so far done little about the growing safety problem.
NSC estimates more than one out of every four motor vehicle crashes involves cell phone use at the time of the crash. Each year, this distracted driving problem results in about 1.6 million crashes, hundreds of thousands of injuries, and thousands of deaths, according to the NSC.
The white paper includes references to more than 30 scientific studies and reports, describing how using a cell phone – hands-free or hand-held – requires the brain to multitask, a process it cannot do safely while driving. Using cell phones while driving not only impairs driving performance, but it also weakens the brain’s ability to capture crucial driving cues.
Among other things, the paper describes how drivers who use cell phones have a tendency to “look at” but not “see” up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. A form of “inattention blindness” occurs, which results in drivers having difficulty monitoring their surroundings, seeking and identifying potential hazards, and responding to unexpected situations.
“Cell phone use while driving has become a serious public health threat,” says Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO. (more…)