Copied below is “Call me – I’m in the car” which
was one of my first blogs in November, 2006. I’m re-publishing this
now because everything I wrote 8 years ago applies just as much in 2014.
In fact, the statistics on usage make this message even more important now.
"Call me - I'm in the car." You've heard it and you've
probably said it - but did you know that you were increasing your chance
of having an auto accident by three times?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) - the
folks in Washington who work hard to make transportation safer for all
of us - have studied this issue carefully, and some of their initial findings
might not surprise you. First, cell phone use is increasing in cars. In
2005, the percentage of drivers holding a cell phone to their ears rose
to 6 percent, up from 5 percent just one year earlier. Second, using a
cell phone while driving increases your chances threefold. Finally, guess
what group is having the most dangerous increase in cell phone use while
driving? Our kids. Drivers aged 16-24 increased their use of cell phones
while driving from 8 percent to 10 percent in 2005.
Now for the bad news. NHTSA is just now coming to terms with cell phone
calls. To our knowledge, there haven't been any tests which also measure
the distraction from text messaging, e-mail from PDA devices, programming
on-board navigation systems or MP3 music devices like iPods. If the advertising
for this year's holiday season is any indication, lots of Americans
will have their favorite TV shows and movies on MP3 players just a few
months from now. You can just imagine what that will do to car accident
Distraction isn't limited to passenger vehicles. Tractor trailer trucks
have a wide array of electronics intended to keep a driver in touch with
his dispatchers, his family and his customers awaiting deliveries or pick
ups. In an effort to recruit drivers, many national trucking firms actually
use their on-board technology (GPS load tracking, e-mail service in the
power unit or cab of the truck, etc.) to attract CDL drivers. All of these
can contribute to truck accidents as well.
In Pennsylvania, the standard police auto accident investigation forms
have a box where the officer must determine if a cell phone was in use.
Given the explosion of text messaging and e-mail from small PDA devices,
perhaps the inquiry in police accident investigations should also include
other forms of potentially distracting communication and entertainment devices.