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 2012, that number grew to 102.2 percent.
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.
Cell 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."
The 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 Employers 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:
The 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 Zones
Texans 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.