2010 Safety Tip
- Distractions are the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes and the
number one distraction is cell phones. The use of a cell phone while
driving is a very high-risk behavior with significant impact on society
because of the vast number of people engaging in the behavior and the
cognitive distractions the driver experiences when engaged in a cell
phone conversation. More than 50 peer-reviewed scientific studies have
identified the risks associated with cell phone use while driving.
- CTIA – The Wireless Association reports there are more than
270 million cell phone subscribers, this is up dramatically from 100
million subscribers in 2000. An estimated 110 billion text messages
were sent monthly in 2008.
- A Nationwide Insurance public opinion poll showed 81 percent of the
public admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving. And NHTSA
estimates that 12 percent of drivers at any point during the day are
talking on cell phones while driving.
- Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved
in a crash. Two different studies found this same conclusion, a 1997
New England Journal of Medicine examination of hospital records and
2005 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study linking crashes to
cell phone records.
- No difference exists in the cognitive distraction (the mental process
of knowing, which includes awareness, judgment and perception) between
handheld and hands-free devices, according to simulator studies conducted
at the University of Utah.
- One recent simulator study compared drivers using cell phones and
drivers impaired by alcohol. Cell phone users had slower reaction times
than drivers with .08 BAC and slower reaction to vehicles braking in
front of them.
- Many businesses and organizations understand the risk and are already
taking action. Among NSC members who responded to a 2009 survey, 58
percent (1,163 out of 2,004 respondents) said their organization had
a cell phone policy of some kind. Of those, 99 percent said the policy
did not affect productivity and 20 percent saw decreases in employee
crash rates and property damage.
- A Carnegie Mellon study took pictures of the brain while drivers listened
to sentences and drove on a simulator. The drivers listening to sentences
had a 37 percent reduction in spatial awareness, which can directly
contribute to cognitive distraction.
- Talking to a passenger while driving is significantly safer than talking
on a cell phone, a University of Utah study found. Passengers, unlike
cell phone conversations, can make the driver aware of changing road
conditions they might not see and can stop the conversation if traffic