Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
April is being promoted by the National Safety Council as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. As part of the campaign, NSC provides educational material on its website in various formats, including posters, handout sheets, webinars, and infographics.
According to NSC studies and statistics, “eighty percent of American drivers believe hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. But that is just not the case. More than 30 studies show hands-free devices are no safer because the brain remains distracted by the conversation. When talking on a cell phone, drivers can miss seeing up to half of what’s around them, such as traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians.” It is estimated that 1 in 4 crashes involve cell phone distraction, handheld or hands-free.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “hands-free features in dashboards actually increase mental distraction.” The Texas A&M Transportation Institute studies also revealed that: “using voice-to-text is more distracting than typing texts while driving and drivers who text with their hands or voice (using speech-to-text systems) keep their eyes on the road less often and have reaction times twice as slow.” Additional results from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute are listed below:
- “Driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used. In each case, drivers took about twice as long to react as they did when they weren’t texting. With slower reaction times, drivers are less able to take action in response to sudden roadway hazards, such as a swerving vehicle or a pedestrian in the street.
- The amount of time that drivers spent looking at the roadway ahead was significantly less when they were texting, no matter which texting method was used.
- For most tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than the voice-to-text method, but driver performance was roughly the same with both.
- Drivers felt less safe when they were texting, but felt safer when using a voice-to-text application than when texting manually, even though driving performance suffered equally with both methods.”
As part of the Distracted Driving Awareness promotion, the National Safety Council offers a Focused Driver Challenge,with a request that those who take the challenge complete a pledge to drive cell free and post it on their Facebook page. As incentives, weekly drawings for prizes are included. Last year, Facebook was inundated by millions of people who took the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to help raise awareness and donations for ALS. Perhaps this will be the year that millions of people flood Facebook by taking the Focused Driving Challenge and pledge to drive cell free.
Distracted driving, especially among teens, has become a much more serious driving issue in recent years. As part of my volunteer community service program, I give free presentations to area schools about distracted driving in an effort to teach young people the importance of driving carefully and to empower them to be sure they do not allow others to drive while distracted, at least not while they are in the car.
If you, your child’s PTSA, or your child’s school would like to know more about my presentation, please contact me.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”. Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best-most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) – national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.