Thanks to advances in mobile technology, “smartphones” allow users a level of multitasking ability never seen before, including on-the-go email access, “apps” that lead straight to social media sites, and hands-free technology that allow users to access certain functions and features without using their hands.
However, according to the National Safety Council, this multitasking ability – and hands-free phone access in particular – may do more harm than good for drivers. In an effort to raise awareness, 2014’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month urges drivers that “Hands-Free is Not Risk-Free” and to stop using their phones while driving, period.
With smartphone use – and concerns over cell phone-related car accidents – on the rise across the United States, Kentucky accident lawyers know that this year’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month could prove to be particularly important in reducing cell phone and texting-related accidents across the state.
National Safety Council campaign urges drivers to stop using cell phone while driving
Each April, the National Safety Council promotes Distracted Driving Awareness month and urges drivers across the United States to drive free of distraction. The anti-distracted driving campaign was introduced by the council to curb cell phone use among drivers in 2010. Past themes included “What Were You Thinking?” in 2013 and “One Text or Call could Wreck it All” in 2012.
This year’s safety campaign, “Hands-Free is Not Risk-Free,” zeroes in on increasingly popular hands-free applications designed for drivers. Oftentimes marketed as technology that makes cell phone use safer for drivers, hands-free technology allows drivers to operate their phone without physically holding the phone. A hands-free device might include speech-to-text software, speakerphone functionality, and apps that can open and close via voice command.
According to the National Safety Council, hands-free technology has proven to be just as dangerous for drivers who might be looking for an alternative to conventional cell phone use – or texting – while driving. The cognitive distraction – the mental effort it takes to successfully operate hands-free software – makes hands-free cell phone use just as dangerous behind the wheel, according to the Council.
For this year’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the National Safety Council asks drivers to recognize that hands-free devices offer no safety benefits. The council urges drivers to put down their cell phones entirely. Drivers interested in getting involved are urged to take a pledge to drive cell-free. Through the official Distracted Driving Awareness Month website, people can access information, statistics, and videos outlining the dangers of distracted driving.
Distracted driving remains top public safety concern in Kentucky, across U.S.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s distraction.gov reveals that over 3,300 people were killed in distraction-related crashes in 2012. According to the site, an estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, marking a nine percent increase from 2011.
However, according to Insurance Business America, texting and driving accidents might be vastly underreported by law enforcement officials. Estimates from a 2011 Leger Marketing consumer study of 1,300 drivers revealed 18% to admit texting while driving – a number that experts believe is much higher.
That’s because, unlike drunk driving – where a driver is proven to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level greater than or equal to .08, gauging whether a driver was talking, texting, emailing, or using hands-free technology while driving could be far more difficult. No standards exist to measure driver distraction.
Although drivers might seek out hands-free alternatives to continue using their cell phone while driving, it’s important to remember that simply putting the phone down and waiting a couple minutes to send that text, tweet, or photo could be the difference between life and death for yourself, a loved one, and every driver and pedestrian sharing the road.