Author’s bio: Sofia Francis is a recent law school graduate living in Riverside, California. Sofia is a safe driving advocate and hopes to defend people who have been involved in distracted driving accidents as a personal injury lawyer.
Although there are a number of campaigns and laws in place to encourage people to keep their minds on the road and not on their personal conversations or incoming text messages, the general mindset seems to be that it’s still acceptable to talk on your phone while driving.
Americans are the worst offenders with almost 69 percent of American drivers talking on their phone in the past month while driving according to a survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 21 percent of British drivers admitted to talking while driving and 40 percent in Germany and France.
The numbers for texting are very similar and it’s these individuals who are most likely to be involved in fatal car accidents due to distracted driving.
In the United States 25 percent of all car accidents are directly related to distracted driving—a staggering 600,000 accidents and 300,000 injuries.
While the numbers seems to still be climbing in the United States, in the case of European Union there has been a decline of 44 percent in member states in the past 13 years of fatalities. That isn’t to say distracted driving is declining, however.
Young, inexperienced drivers are the worst offenders
The term distracted driving can apply to a number of activities, but statistically speaking, mobile phones are the most common choice for the habitually distracted drivers.
Unfortunately studies show the people most commonly using mobile devices while driving are young and unskilled drivers who have typically had their license for a short period of time. Worse still, according to the University of Leeds, these drivers tend to believe their driving abilities are actually adept in self assessments.
These are the drivers most at risk for distraction-related fatal crashes—especially drivers under the age of 20.
Are laws against hands on cell phone use effective?
A number of states like California have taken a stance against hand help mobile phone use while driving as have quite a few countries.
A study by MIT found, however, cell phones aren’t necessarily the problem. Researchers found it is the people who regularly use cell phones behind the wheel who are the problem. These drivers will perpetuate risky driving and behaviors even without their phone.
During the study researchers found, even without the presence of a cell phone, drivers who admitted to frequently using one while driving were more likely to drive faster, change lanes frequently, brake hard and spend a lot of time in the passing lane.
Researchers were quick to add the differences between the drivers in the study and traditional drivers aren’t extreme. Instead, they are indicators of aggressive driving that can be linked to car crashes.
Although we are quick to blame cell phones, this research brings to light the possibility that the root problem may actually be the behaviors of the people who are more likely to use a cell phone while driving compared to those who don’t.
Article written by our guest, Sofia Francis.