Just Hang Up and Drive

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Brian Hobbs
  • 124 FW Safety Office
It is all too common to hear of people on the highways being distracted while driving. Whether it is texting or talking on the cell phone or one of the many other distractions, there are instances of accidents because of distracted driving and they are increasing.

More than a million vehicles are on the road at any given daylight moment under the operation of someone using a cell phone. In 2008, nearly 6,000 people died and more than half million were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. One out five injury crashes that year involved distracted driving.

Hand-held cell phone use is banned in eight states and 30 states ban text messaging while driving. It seems reasonable to assume that all states will eventually ban operating a hand-held cell phone while driving. Of all the distractions that we face while driving, such as talking to your kids in the back seat, eating and drinking, and fumbling with the radio, talking, texting or surfing the web while on your phone is the most dangerous. That's because it is much more than a brief distraction. It's not a glance in the back seat or a quick look down. It is something that really takes your attention away from what you should be focused on.

One study asserts that four out of every five accidents are attributed to distracted drivers. Texting while driving is about six times more likely to result in an accident than DUI. The average DUI costs the offender in fines and legal fees. Some advocate for similar fines while texting because of the dangers the activity poses.

There are some alternatives to using hand-held cell phones that are much safer. Hands-free devices allow the driver to keep the hands on the wheel and concentrate on driving while still carrying on a conversation. Many of the newer vehicles that are being produced have the hands-free option already installed that allow the phone calls to be received through the stereo. Some phones even have the ability to convert your voice into text so that you can send a quick text message without having to type. Another option is to just turn off the cell phone until you reach your destination. I know this is less appealing but it is better than causing an accident. Finally, just pull off the road and have your conversation safely without the possibility of affecting your concentration while driving. These alternatives will be better than risking injury or death due to inattentive or distracted driving while using a cell phone.

Make the smart decision now before something happens that you can't undo.