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John Hopkins

Texting While Driving is Unsafe — Anything else is a rationalization

» Written by // August 3, 2015 // ,


The latest cell-phone statistics are in, and they don’t bode well for drivers. The National Safety Council has reported vehicle crashes that involve the use of mobile devices by motorists have increased for the third consecutive year. About 27 percent of all accidents on the road occur when drivers are talking or texting.

Despite the flood of public-service announcements on broadcast, print and social media warning against such behind-the-wheel behavior – especially texting while driving – more Americans than ever are being injured or killed in avoidable incidents.

Cell_phone_use_while_driving

“The incredible connectivity enabled by technology has resulted in a very dangerous environment behind the wheel,” National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman said in an agency press release. “While the public understands the risks associated with distracted driving, the data shows the behavior continues – we need better education, laws and enforcement to make our roads safer for everyone.”

According to the statistics, crashes related to texting jumped to six percent, from five percent, while crashes related to talking stand at 21 percent. It is interesting to note the data include both hand-held and hands-free devices.

“Texting increases a driver’s crash risk at least eight times; drivers talking on either handheld or hands-free cell phones are four times as likely to crash,” the press release states.

Distracted driving – in which cell-phone use plays a major role – can cause catastrophe in a matter of seconds. Running an unseen stop sign or unnoticed red light can be deadly. So can weaving in traffic while glancing at your incoming emails. Adults and teens are the culprits and the victims.

A public-opinion poll conducted by the council found 80 percent of consumers admit cell-phone use is addictive. The fact that so many American have that belief was startling enough it prompted the agency to initiate a national campaign called Calls Kill. Calls Kill launched in April of 2015 with Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“For far too long, we have prioritized convenience over safety,” Hersman said. “When we get behind the wheel, we have an obligation to keep one another safe. Drivers who justify cell phone use with the hands-free myth are disregarding that obligation. It’s time to reconcile the cost of being constantly connected with the consequences of risky behavior behind the wheel.”

There also persists an idea we humans are capable of multi-tasking at a level that our brains will not support. The human brain is a marvelous computer, but it can process only one thing at a time. The speed at which our brains process makes it seem as if we can multi-task, but the reality is completely different.

The brain treats visual, audible, physical and mental processing as tasks and it processes them separately:

  • Selection – the brain tries to choose what information it will process
  • Process – the actual handing out of information and instructions to the body
  • Encode – the brain creates memory. You cannot process information and take ANY action without the brain storing the information in at least short term memory
  • Store – the brain store the information
  • Retrieve – the brain must access the information stored in memory
  • Execute – the brain instructs part of the body to act on the information and then guides the necessary neurological responses to cause the action

Settle with the fact that you are mentally and physically limited. Driving a vehicle requires a multitude of input and processing that must come first. Think safe and not convenience. Should you lose control of your vehicle because you are texting it could be someone’s mother, daughter, son or father who will pay the price for your recklessness.

Calls Kill urges drivers to make a pledge to put away their phones when they start their engines and take the Focused Driver Challenge. They then can share their pledges on Facebook and entered to win weekly prizes.

“Protect the ones you love – including yourself – and pledge to stop using your phone behind the wheel,” the campaign copy pleads.


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