STOP THE TEXTS. STOP THE WRECKS. An Important New Campaign

May 1, 2012

Today the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Ad Council have launched a new campaign to discourage teens – and all drivers – from texting while driving. This campaign, and those like it, are vital elements in reducing the number of tragic deaths and injuries caused by distracted drivers.

However, campaigns alone will not solve the problem. Stiffer fines, laws, and penalties will not alone solve the problem. What we need is a cultural shift making texting while driving an unacceptable behavior, and for that to happen every single person has a clear role to play. Please play your role.

Here are some of the resources made available to consumers through this STOP THE TEXTS. STOP THE WRECKS. campaign:

  • Facts sheet – with 30 sobering facts, here’s a sample
  • Survey results
  • Videos – 4 videos that help illustrate how quickly distraction leads to disaster
  • Infographic – see below

This campaign has partnered with the U.S Department of Transportation who created the excellent Distraction.gov materials.

 

Also check out the following blogs:

 

 

Linda

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NTSB Recommends Ban on All Non-Emergency Use of Mobile Devices

December 14, 2011

A ban on the use of all mobile devices by drivers except in emergencies has just been recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Their decision is based on investigations into distraction-related accidents for the past decade where electronic distraction has played an increasing role, combined with escalating concerns about the increasing capabilities of mobile devices that will give rise to even more distractions.  “Every year, new devices are being released. People are tempted to update their Facebook page, they are tempted to tweet, as if sitting at a desk. But they are driving a car” said Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of NTSB, who added It’s going to be very unpopular with some people. “We’re not here to win a popularity contest. We’re here to do the right thing. This is a difficult recommendation, but it’s the right recommendation and it’s time.”

Here is an excerpt from the NTSB’s recommendation:

To the 50 states and the District of Columbia:

(1) Ban the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices (other than those designed to support the driving task) for all drivers; (2) use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration model of high visibility enforcement to support these bans; and (3) implement targeted communication campaigns to inform motorists of the new law and enforcement, and to warn them of the dangers associated with the nonemergency use of portable electronic devices while driving.

To put this recommendation in perspective, I wrote in my blog on Dec. 13th that In Spite of Risks, More Drivers Text than Ever Before that texting while driving increased 50% from 2009 to 2010 according to the newly released annual National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study, and that consumer phone use while driving doesn’t end there. Consumers are also reading and typing email, watching video, playing games, using their GPS maps to navigate, and browsing the Internet.

In fact, in another study released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 100 drivers were continually observed for a full year. The results found that drivers were distracted between one-quarter and one-half of the time.

Responding to the NTSB’s recommendation, the Wireless Association (CTIA)  issued a statement saying it agrees that distracted driving is a dangerous problem  and the group supports a ban on “manual texting” while driving, but would defer to state and local lawmakers when it comes to talking on wireless devices while driving.

Would it kill you to put down that cell phone while driving? No…. But failing to put it down just might.

Linda


In Spite of Risks, More Drivers Text than Ever Before

December 13, 2011

Texting while driving increased 50% from 2009 to 2010 according to the newly released annual National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study. That’s in spite of legislation in 35 states that restrict or ban cell phone use while driving.

And our phone use doesn’t stop there. Consumers are also reading and typing email, watching video, playing games, using their GPS maps to navigate, and browsing the Internet.

Our increased cell phone use comes on top of the non-technology related array of distractions like eating and drinking, smoking, personal grooming, reading, fiddling with the radio or CD’s, and talking to passengers and the stats aren’t pretty.

In a study released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 100 drivers were continually observed for a full year. The results found that drivers were distracted between one-quarter and one-half of the time. How is distracted driving defined? The study breaks down four types of driver distraction:

  • Visual – looking at something other than the road
  • Auditory – hearing something not related to driving
  • Manual – manipulating something other than the wheel
  • Cognitive – thinking about something other than driving

Now add winter road conditions and general holiday mayhem, and the risks of multitasking while driving – or being hit by someone who is multitasking while driving are likely to be sharply increased.

Play it safe this winter.

Learn more about cell phone risks when driving in these blogs:

Linda


Half of U.S. Drivers say Potential distraction issues Discourage Buying New Media Features in Cars

November 16, 2011

Concerns about driving distractions when using media features like navigation and Wi-Fi would deter half of U.S. users from purchasing these features according to a new survey from Altman Vilandrie & Company and uSamp.

In spite of safety concerns, the demand for new technologies in cars is strong, including media features like WiFi. This is especially true among younger drivers aged 18-24 who are twice as likely (40%) to say in-vehicle media capabilities influenced their most recent car purchase compared to older drivers.

The most desirable in car technology features? Voice-controlled navigation, real-time traffic updates, and the opportunity to turn their vehicles into wireless “hotspots” to enable internet access. Respondents were also interested in voice output–hearing emails, text messages, and social networking information.

The study also found that 70% of respondents have privacy concerns over the potential use of their driving data by car manufacturers and wireless carriers, though surprisingly those privacy concerns don’t extend to insurance providers. More than a third of respondents said they hoped to have their insurance rates determined by monitored driving habits.

Linda


Deaths Related to Drivers Distracted by Cell Phone Use

October 14, 2010

The increase in texting while driving is estimated to have caused more than 16,000 additional road fatalities between 2001- 2007 according to new research published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The research, looked at data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which records the causes of all U.S. road fatalities and matched it with trends in cell phone use and texting volumes to calculate the impact.

The research also found that “crashes increasingly involved male drivers driving alone in collisions with roadside obstructions in urban areas” – the types of crashes we have traditionally associated with drunk driving. This finding appears to be in line with research that indicates texting while driving is equivalent to driving under the influence.

“For teens over the last 20 years, [alcohol related] fatal accidents have dropped by about 60 percent. In that same amount of time other fatal crashes for teens have gone up by about 35 percent, so that now, distracted driving and other things that are non-alcohol related are eclipsing the total numbers of fatalities that you see with alcohol. We’ve just traded drunk driving for distracted driving” says David Strayer, a cognitive scientist at the University of Utah who has been involved in a number of studies measuring cell phone use and crashes.

Evidence continues to mount

A new report issued by the U.S. Transportation Department said 5,474 people died in 4,898 crashes linked to distracted driving in 2009. Of those, about 1,000 involved cell phones.

In another newly released survey, researchers from Harris Interactive found that  “Fewer teens view texting while driving as leading to fatal consequences as compared to drinking while driving,” according to a press release by State Farm who commissioned the survey.

“Of 14- to 17-year-olds who intend to have or already have a driver’s license, the survey found that 36 percent strongly agree that if they regularly text and drive they could be killed one day. In contrast, the majority of teens (55 percent) strongly agree that drinking while driving could be fatal.”

“The awareness gap becomes more pronounced among teens who admit to texting while driving versus teens who refrain from the practice. Among teens that have never texted while driving, 73 percent strongly agree they will get into an accident if they text and drive. Yet among teens that admit to texting while driving, only 52 percent strongly agree they will get into an accident as a result of the practice,” the agency said.

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found even higher texting frequency. Their data indicates that 81% of U.S. residents said they have used their cell phone while driving, and that of the 82% of 16- to 17-year-olds who have cell phones, 52% said they use them while driving.

It’s not just teens who are texting behind the wheel

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released a report in Nov. of 2009 found 25% of 16 to 17yr-olds who have cell phones say they text while driving. However, perhaps the most disappointing finding from their research was that teens say their parents are also texting behind the wheel.

Pew found that “the frequency of teens reporting parent cell phone use behind the wheel in our focus groups was striking, and suggested, in many cases, that texting while driving is a family affair.”

The American Journal of Public Health article provides this conclusion: “Distracted driving is a growing public safety hazard. Specifically, the dramatic rise in texting volume since 2005 appeared to be contributing to an alarming rise in distracted driving fatalities. Legislation enacting texting bans should be paired with effective enforcement to deter drivers from using cell phones while driving.”

Linda