Distracted driving is a real problem and it won’t stop until drivers are absolutely aware of the risks and potential consequences.
In many states across the country, the number of distracted driving tickets being handed out to drivers has doubled. To experts, that’s troubling. It means that in spite the increased law enforcement crackdown as well as the extra efforts to make sure educational events reach high schools across the country, drivers are using their phones more frequently that we might expect.
To young and inexperienced drivers, the temptation of using a phone while behind the wheel is often too strong. To many, technology is to blame. But distracted driving accidents are not exclusively caused by phone use. According to law enforcement agencies, crashes caused by distracted drivers are not reported often. Officers claim that in many cases, drivers deny using the phone in the moments prior to the accident to avoid being cited for distracted driving. Due to that technical problem, many officers are not able to mark down distracted driving as a factor several accidents.
In 19 states and the District of Columbia, texting or online browsing while behind the wheel is illegal. In six states and Washington, D.C., drivers are prohibited from using handheld phones. Yet none of the states has banned all phone use. To experts, allowing drivers to use hands-free technology to talk, text, dictate emails and social media posts is a problem. Studies have already indicated that the use of hands-free technology is just if not more distracting than the use of handheld technology. Too often, the driver who’s attempting to make use of the hands-free technology while behind the wheel dedicates his or her attention to the act of dictating messages or dealing with smartphone hands-free features. The cognitive distraction, researchers say, can be just as impairing as manual or visual distractions.
Drivers who are serious about putting an end to distracted driving accidents must keep in mind that at least 80 percent of all auto accidents reported in the United States are associated with driver inattention. Each year, about 3,000 people are killed in accidents primarily associated with distracted driving. To keep the number of deaths low, drivers must keep in mind that distractions are not only associated with phone use. Experts say that, more often than we might think, distracted driving accidents are associated with performing personal grooming activities, checking GPS systems, dealing with the radio, mp3 players or iPods, takking to other occupants, dealing with pets, or even eating and drinking.
The use of hands-free technology behind the wheel may also cause “inattention blindness,” another cause of accidents.