Drinking and driving…most of us wouldn’t consider driving while drunk. But, most of us have talked on our cell phones while driving. But, do we really appreciate the ramifications of driving and talking on our phones. A recent study by the AAA Foundation, using driving simulators, suggests that drivers talking on their cell phones exhibit the same behaviors as drunk drivers. They weave, they cut off other drivers, they neglect to stop for pedestrians and they ignore stop signs. They also have significantly impaired reaction time. According to the study, drivers talking on their cells phones are more likely to be involved in a rear-end crash than a drunk driver.
Well, you say, I always use my Bluetooth while talking on my cell phone when I drive and I’m a great multi-tasker. That’s safer, right? According to the AAA Foundation study, the data regarding reaction time with hand-held devices versus hands-free devices was virtually identical. You are four times more likely to be involved in a crash while having a cell phone conversation while driving regardless if you were using a hand-held or hands-free device.
Interestingly, the survey showed that eighty-three percent of the respondents rated drivers using cell phones as a serious or extremely serious problem with only drunk drivers rating as a more serious threat at eighty-eight percent, rating higher than aggressive drivers, excessive speeding and drivers running red lights. However, forty-six percent of these same respondents admitted to themselves using a cell phone while driving in the past thirty days.
And, if you think this phenomenon of talking on your cell phone is “no big deal” and this study is just a bunch of statistics and numbers, consider these Colorado fatalities:
November 2008, fourth-grader Erica Forney of Fort Collins, was killed by 36 year old Michelle Smith who talking on her cell phone just before the collision and swerved into the bicycle lane and hit the nine year old as she rode her bike home from school.
November, 2008, 20 year old Heather M. Jay a Mesa State senior, was ejected and killed at the scene when her car skidded, rolled over three and half times, struck an embankment and a guardrail and then landed in the eastbound lane.
August 2008, six family members were killed when the Adriana Ronquillo made a U-turn in front of a semi-truck. After missing the turn to a family gathering, Ronquillo was on her cell phone with her sister-in-law to get directions.
July 2008, twenty-four year old, Julissa E. Enriquez-Granandos, was killed when she ran off the side of the road near I-70 and Peoria Street, overcorrected, rolled her vehicle, hit a speed limit sign and a fence post.
Freak accidents or a growing trend…is it worth the risk? The friends and families of these victims would probably agree…cell phones and driving are a deadly mix.