Surveys conducted by State Farm have shown that the number of people making cell phone calls while driving has actually dropped since 2009. Unfortunately, drivers have replaced calls with smart phone activities such as checking e-mail, surfing the Internet, checking Facebook or accessing Twitter. Over that time period, the percentage of people who text and drive has remained steady despite the proliferation of laws banning the practice. The total percentage of people using their cell phones in some way while driving has gone up in each of the past six years.
The survey supports the arguments that texting and other cell phone laws have been ineffective and that cell phone use may have an addictive quality. Drivers should be better informed about the dangers of splitting their attention between driving and cell phone use, but that information has not curbed the dangerous behavior. Distracted driving accidents will continue to be a major problem as long as so many people feel free to mix driving with cell phones.
One problem with cell phone use is that drivers often reserve it for inappropriate situations. Countless car accidents and pedestrian accidents occur at intersections. Many drivers seem to regard red lights as an opportunity check their phones. That behavior likely accounts for some of the 36 percent of car accidents that occur at intersections. If you are behind the wheel of a running vehicle, you should not be on your phone. Until people recognize that, distracted driving accidents will continue to plague us.
Source: USA Today, “Drivers talk on cell phones less but surf, e-mail more” by Larry Copeland, 18 November 2014