April 3rd, 2014

Cell Phone Use While Driving is Out of Control

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Groovy Green Livin Cell Phone Use While DrivingMy cell phone sits in the cup holder next to my seat when I’m driving. Ready for use, if need be. 

Yesterday I was driving a car full of boys to soccer practice and I noticed a car to my right. It was swerving. My instinct was to get as far away from it as possible. As I was passing by to pull out in front I happened to glance inside the other car. The driver was probably around 20 years old and he was clearly looking down at his cell phone while driving. A million thoughts went through my head. I was happy he wasn’t my child, because I would have strangled him. But I also realized that he could have been my child. One swerve to the left and our lives could have been forever changed.

This morning I went for my usual run. It’s finally spring-like here and it feels wonderful to be outside. My Vitamin D deficiency is very happy. As I was running in the street, ear buds in, I noticed a car coming towards me. I run on the opposite side of traffic so I can easily see cars approaching. Usually a driver will spot me and get out of my way. This car was coming closer and closer and driving almost on top of the curb where I was running. I was forced to jump out of the way. You guessed it, the driver was on his cell phone.

When my oldest got a cell phone we had him sign a contract. It was a pretty simple and standard cell phone contract- no texting during meals, keep your phone charged, know where it is, and keep your cell phone out of your bedroom while you’re sleeping. There was more to it, but it was something along those lines. We don’t have to deal with the driving piece yet, but soon enough. And I’m scared.

Everyone’s on a cell phone when they’re driving. It’s not just teens. OK maybe not everyone, but the next time you’re driving take a look to the right and the left (maybe take a look in your very own car) and let me know what you find.

I’m hardly innocent. I’m on the phone a lot. My job requires it. My car has become my auxiliary office.

Driving While Using a Cell Phone Stats

But do I really need to be on the phone when I’m driving my car? Especially with statistics like these:

  • Drivers talking on a cell phone are 4 times more likely to have a car accident.
  • The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012.
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
  • Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an auto crash than driving when intoxicated.

My oldest isn’t far away from getting his drivers license We have a few years to go, but nonetheless observing the number of people (not just kids) on their phones while driving has caused me to pause.

Maybe adults should be signing a cell phone contract much like the one I had my son sign. I know that signing a contract won’t do much good. So what do we do? What will it take to create awareness around this issue? I’m afraid the answer might be something happening that directly affects each of us.

I’ve given it some thought and here’s what I’m going to work on:

  • All electronic devices will be out of reach before starting to drive.
  • I will be a good role model for my kids and other kids who are in my car.
  • When I’m a passenger I’m going to speak up if the driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver.

How do you handle cell phone use while you’re driving?

photo credit: Lord Jim via photopin cc

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19 Responses to “Cell Phone Use While Driving is Out of Control”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I think texting is the worse, and I see it every single time I get in my car. I love the idea of signing a contract. I think adults should as well… makes me wonder if anyone has started an online pledge to not text and drive?
    Lindsay recently posted..Sheryl Sandberg’s “Ban Bossy” misses the point, againMy Profile

  2. I could not agree more. Driving around I’ve notice more and more distracted drivers, either looking down or slightly to their right.
    I beep at them. It gets them to look up. If annoying a distracted driver saves a life (theirs, mine, anyone in my car,anyone on the sidewalk,etc) by beeping at them, I’ve done the right thing.

  3. Yup it’s bad. Nearly every time I come up behind someone who’s driving like an idiot (slow in the fast lane, wandering in their lane) it turns out their on their phone. I keep it with me when traveling alone, but try my damndest not to use it unless absolutely necessary.

  4. A friend of a friend looked down at her phone and had an accident. Killed one person in the other car (that person’s fiance was also in the car but survived). Soooo important and that much more dangerous driving out there even if you’re not on your phone. Have to worry about everyone else being distracted!

  5. What if your cell phone provides live navigational help while driving? In that case, it’s a very good safety tool.

  6. I confess. I got a ticket LOOKING – not talking – at my cell phone while STOPPED at a red light. A young eager beaver cop was not amused when I said, I wasn’t even talking on the phone! He gave me no warning. He gave me a $80 ticket. That was right after NYS passed the law a few years ago. Since then, I NEVER even touch the phone when I get in the car. Bluetooth is helpful but still, I worry that relying on it will still distract drivers, especially inexperienced ones. My hubby got a fancy traffic app called WAZE. That drives me (pun intended) crazyyyyy. It tells you ahead of time if there is an accident or traffic up ahead. But other WAZE members have to report it. Who’s driving, reporting, and looking at that app??? I hate all the gadgets and technology that supposed to “help” us but can put us in danger if not used properly. And that’s not that hard to do. Sorry for the l long comment.
    karen recently posted..How much waste do Americans generate?My Profile

  7. I also love the idea of a contract Lindsay, but I’m just not sure it would do any good. I know there are states where it’s illegal. Maybe that’s the answer?

  8. I hope you don’t have to beep at me Joan :) I agree. I think it’s getting worse. How can we stop it?

  9. I know Beth-it’s so easy to tell who’s on their phone. Usually it’s the cars that don’t go when the light turns green! Or their going incredibly slowly in the wrong lane.

  10. I’m so sorry Lynn. That’s awful. I can’t imagine what she’ll have to deal with for the rest of her life. Yes, it’s a lot to have to worry about everyone else.

  11. Good question Anne. I use mine for navigation all the time. I guess there will always be exceptions.

  12. Thank you for the long comment Karen! I have to admit that I LOVE WAZE Karen. Funny, I asked the same question- who’s reporting this stuff??!! So is it illegal to look at your phone at a red stop light? I think it would make it much easier in MA if we did have laws re cell phone usage. Right now I’m only aware of laws with regard to teens.

  13. It drives me crazy to see people texting on their phones while driving. It only takes on accident to change your life.

  14. I love this post and totally agree with all you’ve said. Before cell phones, people managed to drive without answering a phone. Just because we can be connected doesn’t mean it’s necessary. And now we see that’s it’s actually dangerous. In my opinion, if one can’t ignore a ringing phone, then turn it off. I’ve heard people ask “what if there’s an emergency?” The truth is, there’s very little that we can actually handle while driving. And if we feel that we must answer a call … pull over to do so. It’s not complicated … taking our eyes off the road can kill those in our cars as well as other. Simple!
    Small Footprints recently posted..Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) – Protect The OceanMy Profile

  15. I see people holding a phone to their ear ALL THE TIME while driving. I’m also shocked by young people talking on their phones while biking or crossing a busy street. I often comment on it to my kids, telling them how foolish that behavior is. I try not to use my phone at all while driving and set up GPS directions before I start to drvie. I do occasionally check things at red lights but its a crummy habit. This post is inspiring me to leave my phone alone unless I pull over.
    Betsy (Eco-novice) recently posted..6 Ways to Ditch DisposablesMy Profile

  16. This “Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an auto crash than driving when intoxicated.” is downright terrifying.
    Jen @ Go Green recently posted..Maintain Your Coffee Maker for Optimum UseMy Profile

  17. Talking on the phone and biking is a new one for me! I can’t imagine ….. and I cycle a lot!I have to get out of the red light habit too. I know I don’t want my kids doing that when they start to drive. You’re inspiring me too.

  18. It is so simple, yet so many of us continue to drive with a phone next to us. I’m so tempted to talk on the phone in the car. Such an easy place to return calls and catch up with family and friends. I think because I’m in the car a lot I want to use the time as best I can. I’m working on this since I know that the possibility of distraction really isn’t worth the efficiency!

  19. Completely agree and am so glad you wrote this. I’m trying to figure out how to get people I love who live far away to stop talking on the phone while driving – I know they do it because every time they call me, they’re on the road. I’ve told them I won’t talk to them while they’re driving, but know that as soon as they hang up they call someone else. Stats about accidents etc don’t seem to help, as they think they’re better drivers than others (not true!). Any thoughts?

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

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