Driver distraction is a leading cause of traffic crashes, responsible for about 80 percent of all collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Cell phones are the #1 driver distraction, contributing to thousands of crashes and deaths each year. This affects real people, real lives. Watch and hear the stories of the families featured above …
Talking on cell phones distracts our minds from driving. Distraction does not simply involve where our eyes and hands are while driving. Cell phone conversations can take our minds off the task of driving. This is called cognitive distraction, and this is why hands-free and handheld phones have a similar crash risk – hands-free devices are not safer. In fact, a University of Utah study found that drivers using a cell phone had a slower reaction time than drivers with a BAC of .08, the legal limit. The Discovery Channel explored this phenomenon on its hit show, MythBusters.
As an example of the research on the risk of cognitive distraction, see these MRI pictures of the brain from a Carnegie Mellon University study where people listened to sentences while driving on a simulator. The pictures show that just listening decreases an area of the brain also used for driving by 37%:
These real-life videos show how cell phones can distract from driving. See examples of all types of distraction caused by cell phones – eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, mind off of driving: