Smarter Driver: New thinking on driver distraction
As cellphones have taken off, so has hand-held calling behind the wheel.
Doubling from around 3% to about 6% of drivers observed between 2000 and 2005.
But since then, it seems to have leveled off at around five or 6%.
Observed texting behind the wheel has in- Increased from 0.2% in 2005 to about 1.5% observed in 2012.
And at the same time, auto accident fatalities and reported crashes keep falling.
Part of that is due to separate innovations in safety technology, but two other things seem to be going on here.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
Found that while juggling a phone is inarguably risky, it also reduces other distracting driver behaviors.
Talking to passengers declines from 12.5% to a little over 5. Fiddling with climate or radio controls drops from 3.6% to 1.3.
Eating behind the wheel goes from 3% to less than 1. Even talking, singing and dancing drops dramatically, from over 5% to just over 2. Secondly, they found out that drivers on the phone tend to slow down
And average of five to six miles per hour.
Which may infuriate you behind them, but does buy them some reaction time.
Nobody says handheld phone use behind the wheel is a good idea.
But distraction has been here before the phone.
And it is the enemy, not just the phone.
So it pays to double check that as you put the phone down, you aren't just busying your hands, eyes, and mind with something else.
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