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Be Aware of the Dangers of Cell Phone Distracted Driving

Many people are aware texting while driving increases crash risk, but cell phone conversation also impairs your driving ability. Cell phone use while driving is a serious public health threat, resulting in thousands of automobile crashes and deaths each year. Because our brains have difficulty managing multiple tasks that demand our attention, talking on hands-free or handheld cell phones while driving may increase a driver’s risk of having a crash by four times.

Mental distractions, like a phone conversation, can take a driver’s mind off the road. Whether a conversation occurs on a handheld or hands-free device, the driver loses focus on the road, and his driving ability is impaired. The distraction from listening and responding on a cell phone contributes to numerous driving impairments, such as:

Inattention Blindness
Distracted drivers do not process everything they see out their windshield and do not effectively monitor their surroundings. This affects a driver’s ability to seek and identify potential hazards, and respond to unexpected situations. Drivers using cell phones may fail to see up to half of the objects in their driving environment.

Slower Response Time and Reaction Time
Numerous studies show delayed response and reaction times when drivers are talking on hands-free and handheld cell phones. For a driver, a fraction of a second can be the difference between a crash and avoiding a crash, injury or no injury, life or death.

Problems Staying within a Lane
Drivers listening on cell phones have more problems staying in their lane, weaving, and hitting guardrails. Using a cell phone while driving at faster speeds, especially with other motorists driving in close proximity, reduces a driver’s margin of error for decision making and response time to avoiding a crash.

Public opinion surveys show most drivers believe using a cell phone while driving is dangerous; however, many admit they regularly talk or text while driving. You can make the road safer by understanding the dangers of distracted driving and stop using cell phones while driving.

Learn more about the dangers of distracted driving from the National Safety Council.

Last Reviewed: 3/28/2013