Monday, July 10, 2006

Please, stop using your cell phone while driving!

A new study really sheds light on how great of (negative) impact cell phone usage while driving will have on your overall driving performance. The bottom line is that you are much more likely to be involved in an accident while using your cell phone that if you were legally drunk!

Some of the statistics, and why you need to immediatly STOP using that cellphone (while driving) include:
  • Drivers on cell phones were 5.36 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers! WOW! Nothing like handicapping yourself, and begging to wreck your car and cause bodily harm to yourself and/or others!
  • Reduced reaction time - slowed breaking and slowed acceleration; leading to accidents and slowed traffic flow in general. And yet, everyone complains about traffic jams. I'm sure many complain over their phones while in a traffic jam!
  • 50% of visual information is not processed while talking on the phone... e.g., things like red-lights, cars stopping in front of you, a child (perhaps yours) running into the street to get a ball, and so forth. Thus, the driver doesn't even "see" what is going on around them and likewise does not react.
  • 75% of all accidents are preceded by some driver distraction (so, why would you want to jeopardize your car, health, and life over the distraction of a phone-call?)
  • There is no difference between "hands-free" devices or others -- it is the conversation that is the problem. A conversation simply requires too much attention.
The sad thing about all this is that everyone will blow it off as they always do. I have heard so many (of what I consider otherwise intelligent) people tell me how "It doesn't affect me". Everyone wants to believe that somehow they have the parallel-processing capability that makes them far superior to those "average" folks who just can't talk and drive at the same time. But, they do not. They just have yet to be faced with a need for instantaneous reaction to an unforeseen traffic problem like a crash immediately in front of them, or someone's pet running out in front of their car to chase the mail-truck, etc.

I take issue with all these ego-centric cell-phone using drivers that think they are above the statistics for the simple fact that I have nearly been wiped out by them over a dozen times now. Within the past year, I have had 3 cars left-turn (where no right-of-way would allow) right in front of my moving car. One was a girl that was so caught up in her cell-phone conversation that when my being in the other lane finally registered in her brain, she stopped right in front of me (thankfully I had applied heavy braking already), looked at me with cell-phone in hand with a look of shock and awe on her face, and then went back to her conversation and continued her turn into her driveway. Another was a 40-ish guy in his beautiful Audi TT convertible... same situation, his left turning in front of me while busy in conversation; I screeched the tires on that occasion, and the noise must have snapped him out of his cell-phone lapse, at which point he looked at me after nearly joining his car with mine, and smiled, threw his hands up as if to say "oops... sorry", and went on his merry way. This is ridiculous!

I refuse to ride in cars with people that persist in talking on the phone as we drive. A former co-worker told me that whole thing about how "it doesn't affect me", even as he talked on the phone riding 30 feet off the bumper of the car he was following at 60MPH. That was the last time I ever went in the car with him, because he just would not stop this phone-usage. Sorry, but my life is more important than your cell-phone call. Pull over and use the thing (though, we may get rear-ended by another cell-phone user that is driving and not paying attention either!).

The sad thing is that for all of us that do not use the phones while driving, there will be many that do, and no matter how vigilant we are in our watch for those that left-turn in front of us, or do other ridiculous traffic rules violations and threaten our lives, and our safety and well being (and that of our family and children) are at risk. Please, everyone, accept the fact that we are all the same, and all subject to reduced reaction time (and thus, more likely to have or cause accidents) while using cell-phones at the same time we are driving -- and, STOP doing it.


Kirby said...

The other day I saw a woman taking pictures of her self with her camera phone as she was driving. She would hold the phone outside the car window, snap the picture, and then check the picture to see if it was a keeper or not. And of course she was doing this as she drove through Boston's North Shore rush hour traffic. I stopped counting the number of pictures she took at 12.

Mike Eberhart said...

OMG! Kirby, that is unreal!
I would say I feel lucky to not be in Boston area, but fact is, there seems to be no shortage of persons that will do this type of insanity while driving.

Mike Eberhart said...

So, I go up to WalMart to pick up a couple things today. And, as I am leaving the parking lot I come to a 3-way Stop in the lot. Nobody either direction. I start to go and an a@#$ole on a cell-phone comes flying clean through a Stop-sign at 25-30MPH as I slam on my brakes to avoid being hit. Barely missing me, the person, from every appearance, never noticed me at all and continued flying through the parking lot and talking on the phone.

Please please please everyone stop doing this. My life, health, and even my property are worth more than your precious cell-phone call and need to talk at all times. Had some old lady walked across the crosswalk at this very time, she would have been no more. But, at least the guy would have completed his all important cell-phone call!