Although drivers are continually reminded of the dangers of cell phone usage while driving, the numbers continue to rise. Presently, more than 25% of car accidents are attributable to a driver talking and texting on the phone.
Of the 25% cell phone-associated car accidents, only 5% happen as a result of the driver texting. Most crashes involve drivers who are distracted when talking on either a hand-held phone or a hands-free model.
Texas A&M along with the National Safety Council cautions drivers that talking while driving on a phone can be more hazardous than texting. Therefore, using talk-to-text applications is not going to solve the problem.
Talking on a hands-free phone isn’t any better than texting
For the majority of phone-associated tasks, physically texting takes just a bit less time over the voice-to-text way. In any case, the performance of the driver was affected nearly the same during either task.
The country’s four largest cell phone service providers joined forces and launched the first-ever advertising campaign in support of no texting while driving in early 2013. These companies included Sprint, AT&T, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile.
The advertising campaign, “It Can Wait,” warned consumers against wrongly using their company’s devices.
Nevertheless, use of hands-free cell phones has become a huge factor in cell phone-associated distractions among drivers. Research conducted as early as 2009 showed that the performance of drivers using a hands-free cellphone was virtually no better in terms of safety than when a hand-held model was used.
In a recent National Safety Council report, the organization compiled a list of various tasks and rated them based on the impact they had on a driver’s mental capacity, using information gathered from a cognitive study. According to the cognitive distraction scale, talking while driving on a hand-held phone revealed a workload rating of 2.45, while talking and driving while using a hands-free phone indicated a workload rating of 2.27.
Using the same scale, the speech-to-text application had a workload rating of 3.06. According to the statistics listed on the National Safety Council’s website, so far this year there have been more than 245,000 cell phone-associated car crashes.
It’s all in the reaction time
Drivers who talk on cell phones while driving will have an increased reaction time, whether they operate a hands-free or hand-held model.
Based on data from 2011, the National Safety Council teamed up with Nationwide Insurance to generate the most accurate report on the number of fatal car accidents due to cell phone usage while driving. In 2011, there were 350 fatal car accidents involving cell phones.
The 2014 National Safety Council report revealed an increase in the percentage of drivers who were seen operating hand-held devices from 0.9% (2010) to 1.3% (2011).
It’s important to note that these percentages and statistics are not completely accurate, since many drivers are unwilling to admit to talking or texting while driving.
Today, 12 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico have all passed laws that make talking or texting while driving illegal, as urged by the GHSA (Governors Highway Safety Association). All but five of the 43 states that banned driving and texting have actually enforced the law, which means a police officer can give a driver a ticket for texting regardless of any other potential traffic violations.