Decrease of Car Accident Caused By Use of Smart Phones
Mobile Use in the Society
Technological advancement is an emerging trend that plays a big role in Americans’ lives. According to Nodar (2009), the number of mobile phone customers is estimated at a total of 280 million subscribers by 2008. The use of cell phones has increased significantly over the years since it incorporates services offered by various gadgets, such as radios, watches, weather forecast devices, music players among others. Traditionally, mobile phones were used for business purposes but after the emergence of phones that could offer different services at once; society became entirely dependent on these devices (Dong-Chul, 2004). As a result, mobile phones are regarded as gadgets that offer company and solace to a human being. Therefore, society has regarded a mobile phone as an integral part of humans’ lives; hence, they are tempted to operate the gadgets even in risky situations.
- Drivers’ Recommendations
Since this issue directly affects drivers, it is important to understand their proposition on this matter. A study conducted by Karen et al (2000) on drivers delved deep into acquiring information as to why they engaged in such a horrendous activity knowingly. The research revealed that some drivers had legitimate arguments while some had shallow excuses. The legitimate arguments were common among taxi drivers and drivers who were employed to drive other people. In their defense, they argued that sometimes they receive instructions from their bosses while still on the road. Obviously, failure to answer their bosses’ calls would be regarded as ignorance, which might lead to the drivers losing their jobs. The same argument was echoed by people who drove corporate cars and emergency response cars who are always receiving calls from their clients. An ambulance driver was quoted saying that sometimes a driver might be driving alone and failing to answer a phone call may lead to a person who is in critical condition and requires immediate help losing his or her life. Therefore, they are forced to use their mobile phones while driving in spite of the risks involved.
Another argument raised by the drivers is that their experience determined their driving performance and that they are capable of multi-tasking. Most of the drivers who concurred with this argument were long-distance truck drivers, especially men (Dong-Chul, 2004). Research reveals that men are more likely to engage in mobile phone use while driving compared to women. This behavior is influenced by men’s attitude that they are more experienced than women are when it comes to driving. According to Karen et al (2000), drivers also mentioned that mobile phones prevent them from making unnecessary trips. Drivers find it much more economical to make phone calls to their acquaintances and coordinate their schedules rather than visiting them physically even when it is unnecessary. This saves them time, fuel expenses, reduces the risk of pollution, decreases wear and tear on the motor vehicle. Drivers also agreed that using mobile phones to listen to music and play games increased their mental alertness. Drory (1985) asserts that voice communication decreases fatigue when on a long-distance transit.
The study also revealed that phone calls reduce the drivers’ tendency to speed to meet a deadline. They simply make a phone call to the destination point thereby reducing the probability of overspending. Another advantage includes family peace of mind; when family members can connect with the family, they do not have to worry about their safety. Phone calls also contribute to social benefits because there is increased efficiency and responsiveness to clients and coworkers. Lastly, in case of another accident along the road, the driver can contact the emergency team at ease decreasing the accident response time. Therefore, the following is a summary of the safety measures recommended by the drivers.
- Before operating an electronic device while driving, the driver should stop the car and pull off in a safe parking area
- If the driver is supposed to make a series of calls, then he or she cannot keep on stopping the car every time; therefore, the car should be installed with hands-free devices
- The driver’s mind should always be focused on driving and both hands should stay on the steering wheel.
- When making a call, the driver should notify the recipient that he is driving so that the conversation can be brief and precise.
- Since some drivers are obliged to operate electronic devices due to the nature of the job, their employers should be held accountable for any accident caused.
- Acquiring a mobile application that notifies the callers that the driver is on board
- A driver should not make or receive a call while starting or stopping in traffic
- A driver should not take notes, photographs while onboard
- Generate security alert messages that warn the driver against making calls when driving
- Scientists should develop an application that detects when a driver is fatigued
- Lastly, avoiding phone distraction is a shared responsibility and other passengers should warn the driver against operating the electronic devices.
- The New Laws and Regulations
In 2007, it was declared an offense to use a hand-held phone or a similar device while driving amounts to a maximum penalty of $1,000 (Nodar, 2009). The law exempts emergency calls such as 999 or 112. Similarly, the government requires all corporate cars to be installed with hands-free telephones to make it easier for the driver to communicate without interfering with his attention to driving. Novice or minors are also restricted from using electronic devices while driving because they are highly vulnerable to causing accidents. Most of the states have discouraged sending text messages because they completely distract a driver’s cognitive impairment. However, the new laws are bringing contradiction; for instance, the state of California allowed drivers to use Smartphone mapping when driving. The ambiguity is how the traffic police will differentiate when a driver is texting and using GPS to find a location. Similarly, the law allows drivers to use a current Smartphone application that allows them to detect an accident from a distance. Those are some of the recent regulations enacted by the authorities to curb accidents caused by using cell phones when driving.
Both the states and federal governments have laws that regulate cell phones while driving. Government agents believe that this is a tragic vice that should be abolished and drivers should be completely prohibited from using phones while driving. Jordan (2005) states that the Response Insurance National Driving Habit Surveys indicate that aggressive and drunk driving are been replaced as the major causes of road carnages. In spite of the benefits associated with the use of mobile phones, the government position remains unmoved due to the high statistics of accidents caused by distractions. As a result, countries such as Britain have declared the use of hand-held cell phones while driving as a criminal offense. Canada, Japan, and Australia followed suit with some states in America also implementing that legislation rule (Jordan, 2005). In the United States, New York became the first state to implement the law banning drivers from speaking on the phone while driving in 2001 (Nodar, 2009). Other states followed suit but they diluted the law and termed the activity as a secondary offense, which should be accompanied by another offense committed by the driver. In 2007, the senate introduced Bill No. 1099 that made using a hand-held cell phone while driving a primary offense that could be punished by law. Other states retaliated by banning minors from using cell phones while driving because they were believed to be the most notorious for committing this offense.
However, this bill has faced a lot of opposition at both the state and the national levels. One of the major reasons is that the government believes by passing this law it will be regarded as old-fashioned and outdated; hence the need to protect its relevance to the general public. Secondly, others argue that making a phone call while driving is not different from talking to another passenger onboard (Nodar, 2009). The final argument suggests that the rate of road carnage is experiencing a downward trend but this may be attributed by other factors.
In summary, it is not possible to completely ban the use of phones by drivers. Therefore, the drivers are expected to take extra caution when using mobile phones by observing the following recommendations.
- They should consider installing hands-free phones in their cars
- They should adopt the new technology that detects an accident that is bound to happen.
- They should avoid using mobile phones in hazardous conditions or unfamiliar roads.
- Keeping mobile phone conversation short
- They should avoid driving under the influence
- Make regular breaks to maintain initial attention and to reduce fatigue
- Informing the person on the other hand that the speaker is driving and can end the communication abruptly
- All employers should have cohesive and coherent regulations against operating smartphones while driving.
- Drivers with less than four years’ experience should be discouraged from using mobile phones
- Public awareness on the dangers of operating a device while driving
Effects of Mobile Phones’ Distraction on Drivers
These distractions impair the driver’s performance resulting in the following driving perils.
- Emergency braking reactions where the driver is caught off guard
- Accepting gaps in traffic streams that do not give sufficient time for the driver to safely maneuver the vehicle into the traffic flow.
- There is a reduced driver consciousness of the surrounding activities and occurrences.
- The driver’s brains are loaded resulting in a higher level of stress and frustration.
- There is a reduced field of view, as the driver cannot have an extensive view of the road.
- Slower reactions and response to traffic lights.
- Impaired ability to maintain the required speed and inability to maintain correct lane position.
Driver distraction entails deterring the driver’s attention temporally from the task of driving to other tasks, which are not related to driving. Mobile phone driver’s distractions can be categorized into visual, cognitive, physical, and auditory. Visual distraction involves the driver looking away from the road; for instance, to identify a caller, which leads to cognitive distraction, where the driver’s brain concentrates on the phone rather than the road. Cognitive distraction leads to physical distraction where the driver operates the phone manually and forgets to rotate the steering wheel and other driving-related activities (Jordan, 2005). Lastly, auditory destruction occurs when the driver decides to respond to the phone and in such a situation all his concentration is on the phone. Scientist compares phone distraction to drunk driving because in both cases driver’s judgment becomes impaired (Dong-Chul, 2004). Due to the divided attention, drivers have risky responses when an emergency occurs while they are on phone (Nodar, 2009). For instance, when they observe an oncoming car at a junction they may accelerate the car accidents due to the phone’s distraction. Similarly, they may slow their average speed on a highway increasing the chances of crashes from the oncoming cars. Mostly, they hold the steering on one hand, which is not capable of swerving the car in an emergency. Also, when their eyes are on the phone they might not able to see a pedestrian crossing the road and they may end up hitting the road user.
The National Safety Council (NSC) announced that 1.6 million crashes each year are involved with drivers who use phones while driving for various activities (Lane, 2010). The issue of using a mobile phone while driving affects all individuals despite their ages and social status. As a result, various people have their own perceptions regarding this issue and how it should be controlled. Therefore, the following are some of the recommendations and pieces of thought by various categories of people. Based on the study findings, road accidents are connected with the use of mobile phones by drivers. The NSC links drivers’ cognitive impairment to distraction they come across while on transit and mobile phone is one of them (Lane, 2010). The government also relates major roads carnages to drivers’ inattention. As a result, mobile phones have been termed as contributors to the risk of accidents. Hand-held cell phones have demonstrated a liability to drivers and legislators have focused on banning them. However, it has not been simple to implement such laws because of the arguments defending the use of mobile phones when driving. Drivers need to be in a constant flow of information with their clients and their families (Jordan, 2005). This assures their safety and endows them with peace of mind. Despite these advantages, it is not right to allow the use of mobile phones or in other words, drivers are expected to exercise a lot of caution. The cell phone service providers and manufacturers have a responsibility of guiding their customers on the risks of the product. This can be achieved by including advisory messages in their commercials to enlighten the customer. In addition, drivers should avoid driving while intoxicated because they cannot make the right judgment on unsafe driving behaviors and cell phone use. Therefore, the general public has a role to play in reducing the car accidents caused by the use of smartphones when driv
Dong-Chul, S. (2004). The impact of in-vehicle cell-phone use on accidents or near-accidents among college students. Journal of American college health, 53 (3).
Drory, A. (1985). Effects of rest and secondary task on simulated truck-driving task performance. Human Factors, 27 (2), 201-207.
Jordan B. (2005). Automobile accidents associated with cell phone use: can cell phone service providers and manufacturers be held liable under a theory of negligence?, 11 RICH. J.L. & TECH.2
Karen, S., et al. (2000). Cellular phone use while driving: risks and benefits. Retrieved from: http://cellphonefreedriving.ca/media/harvard.pdf
Lane, K. (2010). National safety council estimates that at least 1.6 million crashes due to use of cellular phones and texting. National Safety Council.
Noder, L. (2009). Talking and texting while driving: a look at regulating cell phone use behind the wheel, 44 Val. U. L. Rev. 237