The danger of mixing cell phones and driving is one that many people in our country risk each day. For most people taking calls and texting behind the wheel is part of daily life, and many don’t think twice before doing so.  To put the risk in context, a 2006 study came to the conclusion that, “When driving conditions and time on task were controlled for, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.”

Strict laws apply to intoxicated driving, and more states are adopting laws banning the use of cellphones while driving. However, individuals are slow to curtail their own use of their mobile devices while on the road. The outrage one might experience when seeing someone behind the wheel with a bottle of beer is not yet matched by the disgust one experiences when seeing someone driving while speaking on their cell phone. The results from the above study say that these reactions should align.

Each day, more than 15 people are killed and more than 1,200 people are injured in crashes that were reported to involve a distracted driver. Distracted driving is driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving; these activities can increase the chance of a motor vehicle crash.

In addition, the CDC has provided the following information on cell phone, texting, and emailing while driving:

  • In the United States 25% of drivers reported that they “regularly or fairly often” talk on their cell phones while driving.
  • Of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 29, 75% reported that they talked on their cell phone while driving at least once in the past 30 days, and almost 40% reported that they talk on their cell phone “regularly” or “fairly often” while driving.
  • 9% of drivers in the United States reported texting or emailing “regularly or fairly often” while driving.
  • Of U.S. drivers ages 18-29, 52% reported texting or emailing while driving at least once in the last 30 days, and more than a quarter report texting or emailing “regularly” or “fairly often” while driving.

Even drivers who use hands free headsets are not immune from the effects of distraction. They are as dangerous as drivers who are drunk or on drugs. Additionally, a recent front page story in the New York Times reported that another study found that truckers who text while driving are more than 23 times more likely to get into accidents than non-texting counterparts. Clearly, this cell phone use on the road is a problem, so the next step is to find solutions.

Cell Phones and Driving: How can this dangerous combination be prevented?

  • Think twice when you consider reaching for your cell phone while in your vehicle. Try associating it with reaching for a cocktail while behind the wheel.
  • If you must communicate with someone immediately, pull over to the side of the road and put your hazard lights on.
  • Laws which ban texting while driving are popping up all over the country and will probably become more stringent with time.
  • Graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers restrict cell phone usage for beginners and to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to keep it from occurring.
  • On September 30, 2009 an executive order was issued prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment.
  • On October 27, 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.

Many more people are becoming aware that the combination of cell phones and driving can be very hazardous. To avoid being involved in a car accident, plan to keep your cell phone off while on the road. If you have been injured in a car accident caused by distracted driving or other negligence, contact a car accident attorney right away.