April is distracted driving awareness month and the National Safety Council is running its annual campaign to prevent car accidents related to driver cell phone use. This year’s campaign’s focus is on the risks of hand free devices and new vehicle technologies that allow drivers not only to talk on the phone but also to check emails, post social content or order take out food while driving. According to the NSC, even though 80% of drivers mistakenly believe hands free devices are safer than hand held, more than 30 studies have already demonstrated that hand free devices don’t make drivers safer as their brains remain distracted.
The NSC campaign’s video shows a mother driving with a child in the back seat and receiving a a call from her husband. As she talk to him through a hand free device, her brain gets distracted and she drives through an intersection without seeing a stop sign resulting in an accident and the video ends on the sentence “Calls Kill”.
The NSC also makes available posters to download asking drivers to focus on the road and asking pedestrians and bicyclists not to assume that drivers always see them as drivers talking on cell phones, handheld or hands-free, can miss seeing 50% of what’s around them. Fact sheets and infographics are also available on the NSC website. Additionally two free webnars Our Brains on Technology: A Risky Combo for Drivers and Hands-free or Handheld: Risks your Workplace Can’t Afford will be held respectively on April 9th and 21st.
A recent study shows cell phone use was more likely among females, those younger then 25 years and those driving alone. The study also shows that the overall prevalence of any cell phone use tended to decline from 2011 to 2013 but texting appeared to increase from 2011 to 2013.