Cell Phones and Distracted Driving
Distracted driving causes thousands of car crashes each year. While in-vehicle phone-sync systems assist with hands-free use, many people think these technological advancements are indicative of safety improvements as well. Unfortunately, hands-free technology is more about convenience than safety. Studies examining the distracted brain call into question how effectively drivers can actually multitask. Ultimately, when it comes to safe driving, avoiding all distractions and focusing on the road is the best way to ensure the safety of all people.
Since smartphones have become such an integral part in managing daily lives, drivers have been using them behind the wheel. Telecommunications companies and non-profits have invested in programs to raise awareness about the devastating consequences that texting while driving can have. In addition to providing practical information and victims’ accounts of the dangers, these programs often invite participants to pledge to abstain from texting while behind the wheel. Despite the popularity and engagement of these awareness campaigns, the problem persists.
In attempts to curb texting while driving, many legislators have begun to implement hands-free laws. These laws, as the name suggests, requires drivers to use headphones, Bluetooth, or the audio system built into their car, to use phones while driving. Unfortunately, this solution is limited and misses the point of promoting truly focused driving.
According to a report by the National Safety Council, multitasking is more of a myth when it comes to the human brain. The study suggests that the brain really can’t perform two tasks at once. Though it can quickly switch from one task to another, it can’t process multiple activities concurrently. While hands-free cell phone use may be an improvement from dialing and texting, drivers who use their phones are still splitting mental energy between safe driving and communicating on their phone.
Reaction time, focus, and general awareness suffer when drivers use their phones. While hands-free laws can be a deterrent, they are not the ultimate solution in safety. For many drivers the impulse to respond to text messages while driving is powerful. Despite knowing the dangers, many drivers can’t help it. An effective way to eliminate this impulse is to prevent drivers from seeing incoming texts and calls while behind the wheel.
Cell blocking technology prevents incoming calls and texts from pinging drivers while they are behind the wheel. Large telecommunications companies like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T all have developed apps for this purpose. When downloaded, the applications detect when the car is in motion, and intercept incoming texts and calls. Through the app, users can customize automatic responses to incoming calls and texts that they receive while driving. While cell blocking apps have proven to be a useful way to prevent accidents, drivers still must make a concerted effort to dedicate themselves to focused driving.