The dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel are widely known. Ad campaigns frequently alert motorists to the fact they are taking their life in their hands when they use a phone behind the wheel. ABC News, for example, reported on a recent advertisement which is part of the AT&T It Can Wait campaign. The ad shows a mother with a child in a car seat in the back. The mother is telling her daughter about the positive response to pictures she posted. The mother looks at her phone to check what people said about the photographs. She’s not focused on the road. Suddenly, her car clips a truck and the vehicle goes flying.
Ads like this are meant to shock and reduce the risk of auto accidents caused by distracted driving. Sadly, the reality is many people known the dangers but continue to text anyway. Even more troubling, a new study suggests even when they do not actually use the phone, motorists may be in danger if their phone simply notifies them of an incoming call or incoming message.
Cell Phones Continue to Present Road Safety Concerns
A new study from FSU reveals people cannot stay focused on a task when they are distracted by a notification from their phone. A vibration of the phone or a text alert takes brain energy away from the task at hand and results in the phone user’s mind wandering. Less attention is focused on the complex task (like driving) for an extended period of time after notification, and the task is not well performed.
Teens may be especially vulnerable. A study from Claims Journal reports 19 percent of young people indicate their parents expect a reply to a text message within one minute. Most parents have likely talked to their kids about not texting while driving. Such parents would understand if their teen did not reply to a text when behind the wheel. Even so, some teens may feel pressured to respond immediately if they hear a notification on their phone. These teens may wonder if it is a friend or a parent trying to contact them. And many teens worry about what might happen if they do not immediately reply. Even worse, even if they resist the urge to pick up the phone, their focus on the call or message could mean they are not as alert to what is going on around them on the road.
Motorists need to make sure they are not making themselves vulnerable to distraction from notifications or alerts. Parents should tell teens to not respond to a text while driving. Parents should also be mindful of not texting repeatedly when teens may be behind the wheel. Phone notifications for teens and motorists of all ages should be turned off when someone is operating a motor vehicle. Many phones also enable drivers to send an auto reply to alert callers or message-senders that the phone user is currently driving the car and unable to answer. Little steps like these could prevent a serious distracted driving car accident from happening Oklahoma City or elsewhere in America.