Distracted driving has become an increasingly large problem on Texas roadways in the last few years as cell phones have become more common in Texans’ day-to-day lives. In 1995, cell phone subscriptions covered only 11 percent of the U.S. population; in 2010, that number grew to 93 percent.
What's the Problem
Cell Phone Use While DrivingCell phone use while driving is the No. 1 distraction behind the wheel. More than two-thirds of the respondents to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey reported talking on a cell phone while driving during the previous 30 days. Researchers observing more than 1,700 drivers found that three out of every four drivers using a cell phone committed a traffic violation.
In 2012, cell phone use was a contributing factor in 3,283 Texas crashes.
Talking on a cell phone while driving makes you four times more likely to crash, and texting while driving increases your chances of a crash by up to 8 to 23 times. While a growing number of drivers are turning to hands-free devices, studies show hands-free devices provide no safety benefit. It’s the conversation, not the deivce, that creates the danger.
Cognitive DistractionCell phone use while driving isn’t just a visual and manual distraction, but a cognitive distraction. In addition to taking their eyes and hands off the wheel, distracted drivers take their mind off the primary task of driving. Drivers talking on cell phones miss half of the information in their driving environment.
Drivers using cell phones not only display slower reaction times and have difficulty staying in their lane, but also are less likely to see:
More information on cognitive distraction can be found in the National Safety Council’s white paper, “Understanding the Distracted Brain.”
Employer CostsThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that employers in Texas spend $4.3 billion every year as a result of on and off the job traffic injuries. In recent years, numerous plaintiffs have filed and won multi-million dollar actions against employers for injuries arising from negligent driving of an employee who was distracted by the use of a cell phone. Multitasking while driving may seem like a time-saving solution, but it isn’t worth the risk.
In 2012, motor vehicle crashes in Texas resulted in 3,399 fatalities and $26 billion in economic loss to society.
What You Can Do
99% of organizations that responded to an NSC survey with total cell phone bans saw no decrease in productivity.
A corporate cell phone ban might ask employees to:
Promote Distraction-Free Driving
The Great Multitasking MythThe National Safety Council has a new infographic, “The Great Multitasking Lie,” debunking the myths of cell phone distracted driving. Most people may know that texting while driving is a dangerous behavior, but many don’t fully grasp the idea that having cell phone conversations in the car also is risky. Share this graphic with your employers, family and friends to help spread the word that it is not safe to use your cell phone while driving.
Updated NSC Cell Phone Policy KitEmployers across Texas have realized the dangers of cell phone use while driving and are taking actions to make roadways safer by implementing cell phone policies. The National Safety Council recommends policies include both hands-free and handheld devices and cover all employees. Updated in April 2012, the Cell Phone Policy Kit includes everything an organization would need to implement or strengthen a cell phone ban. The kit includes resources for executives, materials and guides for the implementation team and educational materials for employees, and best of all, it is FREE. Download the kit and help make Texas roadways safer.
Corporate Liability White PaperThe National Safety Council recently released the white paper, “Employer Liability and the case for Comprehensive Cell Phone Policies,” which details the potential liability when employees are involved in crashes where cell phone use is a factor. This research includes examples of employers who have been held liable with awards reaching into the tens of millions of dollars, including cases involving employee-owned cell phones and cars and in situations where employees were driving during non-work hours or engaged in personal phone calls. The white paper is free to download.
Cognitive Distraction/Employer Cell Phone Policy WebinarThe most recent Our Driving Concern webinar, “Eliminating Driver Distractions: Employer Cell Phone Policies Cut Costs and Save Lives,” can now be viewed in our online webinar archive. The presentation, by Deb Trombley, Senior Program Manager of Transportation Initiatives for the National Safety Council, shares the research behind the dangers of cognitive distraction, as well as the safety and liability risks to employers and the resources available to educate employees and implement cell phone policies.
No Cell Phones in School ZonesTexans need to be aware of the cell phone law in effect. Drivers are prohibited from using handheld cell phones in school crossing zones. School bus operators also are prohibited from using cell phones while driving if children are present. In Texas, fines can double in school zones.