Frightening News from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Many healthymemory blog posts have addressed the dangers of distracted driving (enter “driving” into the blog’s search block). This post will add to this list. More than 40% of people between 19 and 39 years old admit to texting while they drive, with 10% admitting that they do it regularly. More than half admit to talking on their cellphone while they drive. Now simply talking on the phone while driving quadraples the risk of being in a crash. The risk while texting is much greater.

Overall the survey found that 26% of the drivers admitted to texting and 6% said they did so frequently. 67% admitted to talking on their phones, 28% admitted to doing so regularly.

It has been estimated that 660,000 Americans use electronic devices while driving at any moment during the daylight hours. Although most people say that they recognize the risk posed by distracted driving, they seem to think that they are able to use their phones safely, but wish that others wouldn’t.

A key problem is “inattention blindness.” Although a driver might see something that should indicate caution, this realization doesn’t register in time for the driver to react by braking or swerving to safety. Research done by David Strayer and others at the University of Utah have found that voice activated devices that allow drivers to listen to or send text messages without touching their mobile device are not effective in reducing distraction. Their research has shown that when compared to other distractions inside the car, “interacting with the speech-to-text system was the most cognitively distracting, clearly suggesting that the adoption of voice-based systems in the vehicle may have unintended consequences that adversely affect traffic safety.”

There was some good news in the survey. The 16- to 18-year group talked less on the their phones while behind the wheel than any group younger than 60 and were less likely to text than drivers between the agesof 19 and 39.1

Please remember that engaging in these activities not only puts your life and health in jeopardy, but also puts the life and health of your fellow human beings in jeopardy.

1Ashley Halsey III (2013). AAA: Drivers ignore texting warnings. The Washington Post, December 17, A4.

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