Posts Tagged ‘Distracted driving’

Car Crash Deaths Eclipse Toll of World Wars

July 22, 2019

The title of this post contains most of the title of the article by Ashley Hasey III in the 22 July 2019 Washington Post. The entire title is “Car crash deaths since 2000 eclipse toll of World Wars.” Since January 2000 more than 624,000 people died in car crashes, compared to 535,000 American military personnel who died in the two world wars. Close to 78,000 people have died in crashes caused by distracted driving according to a study by the American Public Health Association and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data.

Cellphone use while driving caused 800 deaths in 2017. Most of them were talking rather than texting or dealing with emails according the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports this year. So so much for hands free requirements dealing with the distraction problem.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that those who talk on a cellphone while driving are four times more likely to crash. Those who text and drive are up to eight times likely to crash.

Even if you care little or nothing about yourself, think about the other people you can kill or maim.

Distracted Driving Increasing Pedestrian Deaths

March 17, 2016

An article in the March 8, 2016 Washington Post by Ashley Halsey III is titled “Pedestrian deaths jump, report says.”  The subtitle is “There are more drivers and more walkers, and both are distracted.”  The report is from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA).  The report estimates that the number of pedestrian fatalities jumped by 10% last year, a year-to-year increase that comes after a 19% increase from 2009 to 2014.  This projected 10% increase would bring pedestrian deaths to their highest total since 1996, when 5,449 pedestrians were killed.

Driver deaths are decreasing due to better designed cars.  There are a variety of reasons for the increased pedestrian deaths, but distracted driving is either at the top or near the top of the list.  A number that is not given is the number of pedestrian deaths caused by pedestrians being on their phones.  This is a matter of smartphones making their users dumb and dead.  I’ve seen pedestrians so engrossed in their smartphones that they step directly into traffic without looking.  One of my abiding fears is that I’ll run into one of these people.  The fact that the pedestrian was responsible  would not prevent me from my personal trauma.

Another factor bearing on pedestrian deaths is walking at night.  I see two problems here.  One is that many pedestrians seem to think that there is a symmetry between what they see and what the driver sees, but the cars are big and illuminated and the pedestrian is small and in the dark.  This problem is further exacerbated by dark clothing.  When I was in school there were posters telling us to wear white after dark. Whatever became of those posters, in particular, and wearing light clothes, in particular.

To see more posts on the problems of distracted driving enter “Strayer”  in the search block of the healthy memory blog.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

April is Distracted-Driving Awareness Month

April 1, 2015

So said the article in the March 31st Washington Post in the article by Ashley Halsey III, “Keeping their eyes on everything but the road.”  April is appropriate as it begins with April Fools Day and anyone who drives while using a cell phone or texting is indeed a fool.  They are fools who put not only themselves, but also others at risk.  I recently read a true story about a man who drove full speed into the back of a car that was waiting for the light to change.  The man said he did not see the light because he was looking for his cell phone.  The women in the car that was hit had been recovering from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).  This accident sent their recovery back substantially.  I hope that driver served jail time.  I also hope he was sued into bankruptcy.   First of all, he should never use his cell while driving.  However, even if you are not using a cell phone and are trying to drive safely instances will occur,involving a child for instance, that will grab your attention.  Rather than continuing to try to drive while distracted you should safely make your way to a place where you can stop safely and deal with the crisis.

There have been many healthy memory blog posts about using a cell phone while driving.  Texting while driving is even more ridiculous.  A survey from the AAA Foundation found that 58% of teenagers involved in crashes wee distracted by something.  Another survey by the Erie Insurance Company  found people admit to a lot more than texting and talking on cell phones.  15% percent confessed to engaging in a “romantic encounter” while driving.  43 % said they sing or dance (dance !!! can you believe it!).  30% said they apply makeup.  15% said they read.  9 % said they changed clothes.  4 % said they flossed or brushed their teeth. And the same percentage said they take selfies.  And 3% said that they had relieved themselves while they were behind the wheel.

Again, if these people were only endangering themselves this could be ignored and let natural selection take place.  Unfortunately, they are placing all of us at risk.  So take April and every other month seriously avoid distracted-driving and encourage others to avoid distracted driving.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Frightening News from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

December 17, 2013

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.

Voice-Activated Texting is Still Dangerous

April 24, 2013

The effects of voice-activated texting were tested at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University.1 Quite a few years ago, I, along with my colleagues, spent a very interesting day at this institute. It is an impressive institute that conducts quality research. The institute assessed a mobile device that translates words into text messages. They found that it is every bit as dangerous as conventional texting. Reaction times were twice as slow, and eyes were on the road much less often than when they were not texting. This result is not surprising; it is analogous to using hands free phones while driving. Research has shown that using a hands free phone while driving is analogous to driving under the influence of alcohol. The problem is one of attentional limitations, our limited ability to process information. Texting or speaking on the phone degrades driving performance. Although it is true that texting is more dangerous than speaking on the phone, what bothers me is that all the warnings involve texting. Using the phone while driving is still dangerous. And hands free laws are irrelevant to the problem.

According to the article, about 3,300 people a year die in crashes attributed to distracted driving , with 387,000 more injured in 2011. Frankly, I regard these numbers, particularly the numbers involving deaths, to be unrealistically low. What was especially alarming was the survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 35 percent of drivers admitted that they had recently read text messages or e-mail while driving, and that 26 percent said they had sent a text message. If you are wondering why I find these numbers so worrisome, please read the healthymemory blog post, “The “Now” is Really the “Then.” To learn more about the dangers of using the phone while driving, see the healthymemory blog posts, “Phone and Driving is as Dangerous as Drinking and Driving,” “Doing Two Things at Once is NOT Better,” and “Multitasking is a Trade-Off.” Texting and phoning while driving might be conveniences, but remember that for many years we did just fine without these conveniences. If you want to put yourself and your passengers at risk is one matter, but consider the risk you are placing on others on the road.

1Halsey III, A. (2013) Drivers not safer with voice-activated texting study finds. Washington Post, 23 April, B1.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.