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These 4 Things Should Be Your Goals During Distracted Driving Awareness Month

During Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Safety Council hopes people will begin to understand that using a hands-free device while driving is just as distracting and dangerous as using a hand-held cell phone.

April 2014 is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the National Safety Council is urging drivers to take the time to understand the facts when it comes to distracted driving and cell phones.

Each year, thousands of unnecessary deaths occur on the roads due to cell phone use while driving. But, did you know that it is not only your hand-held phone that is a danger on the road? According to the NSC, hands-free devices are no safer while driving than your regular hand-held cell phone. During the month of April, the NSC would like to see drivers:

  • Stop using cell phones while driving.
  • Recognize that hands-free devices offer no safety benefit.
  • Understand the dangers of the cognitive distraction to the brain.
  • Tell others about the dangers of cell phone distracted driving.

In the United States, the NSC indicates that the #1 reason for unintentional death is car crashes. Each day, about 100 people die in car wrecks. Of the total wrecks each day, about 26% involve cell phones—and that includes hands-free devices.

The NSC explains that while our brains can quickly move from task to task, they cannot do two tasks simultaneously. When talking on the phone, the activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by as much as 1/3. Therefore, drivers looking out of their windshields can miss up to 50% of what is around them while talking on ANY kind of cell phone.

Think about it. When you are at home, trying to multi-task while on the phone, how hard is it? Can you read a book while talking on the phone? Not well! Try to read that book and listen to the person on the other end of the line at the same time—you will no doubt end up having to re-read some pages. Now, think about listening to someone on the other end of your phone while driving: The consequences for not driving well while being distracted by the conversation you are trying to comprehend are much higher than just trying to re-read a few pages.

You may well ask, then, isn’t having a passenger in the car just as distracting? The answer for adults, actually, is no. First of all, the passenger is another set of eyes in the car, and is able to spot and point out driving hazards. Additionally, unlike the person on the other end of a cell phone, the passenger is able to recognize when the traffic is challenging, and can stop talking to give the driver time to concentrate on the road.

Up to 90% of car crashes are caused by driver error. Not mechanical failures of vehicles. Not environmental factors, like snow or rain. So, during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, make the effort to decrease your chance of being the driver causing a crash: Stop using your cell phone, hand-held or hands-free, while driving.

Other Stories of Interest about Distracted Driving:
5 Old-School Remedies for Distracted Driving Epidemic
Can a Cell Phone App Prevent Distracted Driving?