I bet you’ve heard a lot about teenagers who text and drive but as it turns out, middle-aged drivers are guilty too and are increasing their risk of a car accident just like younger drivers. A study conducted by the University of California, San Diego found that most middle-aged drivers admit to using their cell phones regularly while driving, even with children in the car. Drivers also admitted to feeling pressured to answer work calls while driving. The authors of the study are hoping to send a message to companies to talk to employees about the risks associated with distracted driving, and to put policies in place to discourage them from using their cell phones while in the car.
Cell Phones and Car Accident Statistics
- More than one in four car accidents are caused by cell phone use, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
- The risk of a car accident increases by eight times when people text and drive.
- Talking with a hands-free cell phone, which many deem an acceptable alternative, still makes drivers four times more likely to be involved in a car crash-the same rate as driving at the legal alcohol limit.
- 75 percent of study participants admitted to talking on their hands-free cell phone while driving and almost 90 percent of them consider themselves capable or very capable drivers while doing so.
- Less than 30 percent of study participants knew that talking on a hands-free phone increases the risk of crashing to the same degree as driving at the legal alcohol limit.
AT&T’s Anti Text and Drive Campaigns
Companies such as At&T are trying to do their part to decrease overall cell phone usage and text and drive accidents by using their advertising dollars to create awareness of the risks. Past “It Can Wait” campaign ads focused on text and drive awareness and mostly featured individuals speaking directly to the camera about their own experiences with distracted driving. Although these ads were deemed somewhat effective, AT&T’s researchers found that many people still didn’t feel like it was personally relevant to them. The new “It Can Wait” campaign opens the focus to include all cell phone usage, including checking social media while driving. It uses visual story-telling with different people going about their day who then come together in a horrific car crash when a mother looks down at the “pings” coming into her phone for social media notifications. The idea is that nothing happening on your phone screen, not a cute photo of your kid, not a call from your boss, is worth risking a car accident.
In light of the fact that it has been so difficult to get people to turn their cell phones off while driving, there has been some recent discussion about an app that automatically turns off our phones when we start the ignition. Whatever rules are made to decrease cell phone usage on the roads will be a positive change against car accident statistics.
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