The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for a nationwide ban on all cell-phone use by drivers. Basically, the only thing allowed would be communication devices installed by the manufacturer.
At Plum, we sell a product that’s ideal for vehicle use—you can’t surf the web while driving, but you can call an IVR system. Despite that, we wholly support the NTSB’s efforts on this.
To back up its argument, the NTSB has pointed to research done by Distraction.gov (national website) regarding driving while distracted. (I’ve included some of their statistics in italics).
In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and an estimated 448,000 were injured. Sixteen percent of fatal crashes and 20% of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.
According to Distraction.gov, using a phone while driving distracts us manually (hands off the wheel), visually (eyes off the road) and cognitively (mind off driving).
Evidently, talking on a cell phone takes 37% of our brainpower away from our driving. Over a third.
Using a cell phone while driving – whether it’s hand-held or hands-free delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.
Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
Twenty-three times. According to Distraction.gov, the average text takes our eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds—at 55 mph, that’s the length of a football without watching where we’re going.
And hands-free phones aren’t that much better. It seems taking the hands away only takes the manual aspect of the equation away. The driver is still devoting over a third of their cognitive efforts towards something other than their driving.
So far, the research indicates that the cognitive distraction of having a hands-free phone conversation causes drivers to miss the important visual and audio cues that would ordinarily help you avoid a crash.
For the moment, it’s still in the hands of the states. While some have passed tough phone-related driving laws—most states have passed a no-texting law—many haven’t. You can check Distraction.gov (http://distraction.gov/content/get-the-facts/state-laws.html) to find out what your state’s laws (if any) are.