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Cell Phones, Texting and Driving

Did you know that there are more cell phone subscribers than registered vehicles on U.S. Roadways.

The questions that we as a society must consider are the following.

How dangerous is it to operate a vehicle at the same time as texting or using a cell phone? And should new laws be created to punish this conduct?

National studies now document that dialing on cell phones and texting while operating motor vehicles can be extremely dangerous and deadly. It is believed that texting and cells phones are causing more auto accidents than drunk driving.

In light of these findings, fourteen states and the District of Columbia have created new laws that ban text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

One detailed study conducted between 2005 and 2007 monitored 203 drivers, as they covered more than 3 million miles of actual driving. The studied vehicles were customized with digital video cameras that focused on the drivers’ faces in the six seconds prior to and during a crash or crash avoidance maneuver. The videos revealed that the conduct of cell phone texting to be the most high-risk behavior, mainly because their eyes were off the road for nearly 5 seconds while texting or dialing a cell phone.

It is important to understand that a driver, in 5 seconds, traveling at 55 mph will cover the length of an entire football field.

Statistics and these National Studies, in our opinion, support the need for Legislation to ban texting and dialing cell phones while driving.

The following are just a few examples of tragic accidents caused by texting, cell phones and driving:

  • In Oklahoma, a wife and mother was killed as a result of a teenager texting as they crossed paths at an intersection.
  • In Florida, the driver of an semi truck revealed he was texting just prior to slamming into a school bus, killing one student passenger.
  • A Mass Public Transit Conductor said texting kept him from seeing a red light. His trolley rear-ended another trolley, injuring 49.
  • An operator of a California commuter train sent a text message 22 seconds before the train crashed, 25 people were killed and 135 injured. The train failed to stop at a red signal.
  • In New York, five teenage girls were killed in a fiery head-on collision. Local officials said it was due to text messaging.
Recommendations on Texting and Driving

The following are recommendations based and/or founded on the findings from the 2005-2007 research study:

  • All cell phone use should be banned for newly licensed teen drivers. Our research has shown that teens tend to engage in cell phone tasks much more frequently — and in much more risky situations — than adults. Thus, our studies indicate that teens are four times more likely to get into a related crash or near-crash event than their adult counterparts.
  • Operating a vehicle is a visual task and non-driving activities that draw the driver’s eyes away from the roadway, such as texting and dialing, should always be avoided.
  • Texting should be banned in moving vehicles for all drivers. As shown in findings overview, this cell phone task has the potential to create a true crash epidemic if texting-type tasks continue to grow in popularity and as the generation of frequent text message senders reach driving age in large numbers.
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use because the primary risk is associated with both tasks is answering, dialing, and other tasks that require your eyes to be off the road. In contrast, true hands-free phone use, such as voice activated systems, are less risky if they are designed well enough so the driver does not have to take their eyes off the road often or for long periods.
Teen Drivers and Texting

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) spearheaded a seven year study of teen driving behaviors.

The study showed 4 main things that distracted them from their driving:

  • Talking on the phone
  • Texting while driving
  • Emotional state of mind
  • Having friends in the car
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