With all the warnings about talking or texting while driving, a new study shows the situation is actually getting worse. Cellphone usage is now an issue in 36% of all motor vehicle crashes according to an annual survey from the National Safety Council. The survey found that 21% of phone related crashes involve drivers talking on hand-held or hands-free cell phones. Many people would believe it would be from texting and driving but that is only around 5% of cellphone related crashes.
Texting and driving can be more distracting and riskier for getting into a crash. One in three Americans prefer texting over calling and the average person sends 41 texts per day (ages 19-25 average 110 texts a day). Drivers using cellphones are only using 50% of their attention on the road and environment around them.
Cellphone usage while driving has increased over the years and some believe it is due to the fact it is treated more leniently. Drunk driving results in heavy fines and jail time where cellphone violations are just a smaller fine. There are no state bans for all cellphone use for drivers but many have bans on talking and texting. There are bans on cellphone use in commercial vehicles due to a spike in crashes among those vehicles a few years ago.
Driving while using a cellphone reduces brain activity associated with the “spatial processing” that helps you make sense of objects on the street by 37%. Safety experts advocate for a federal ban on cellphone use while driving, including hands-free devices. Even though drivers can have both hands on the steering wheel, calls still distract them from their surroundings.