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Driving Distractions: An Investigation of the Safety Implications of Using Cellular Telephones While


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Title: Driving Distractions: An Investigation of the Safety Implications of Using Cellular Telephones While

Driving Distractions An Investigation of the
Safety Implications of Using Cellular Telephones
While Operating a Motor Vehicle
  • Reena Shah- Johns Hopkins University
  • Anika Thomas- Morgan State University
  • Lisa Wilson- UMBC

As of July 25, 2001 there are currently
119,073,285 Wireless Subscribers in the US.
Estimated Number of Cellular Telephone
Subscribers For The Period January 1985 to
December 2000
Its a matter of dollars and sense !
Today, the average monthly subscriber bill is
half of what it was in 1987, making it far more
affordable for ANYONE to own a cell phone
Average Monthly Subscriber Bill For The Period
December 1987 to December 2000
People are using their Cell Phones to Keep in
Touch with Loved Ones
61 percent of calls made by subscribers are of a
personal nature

  • Business accounts for only 21 percent of all
    calls made

  • Many cell phone owners purchased their phones
    solely for the SAFETY benefits that having a
    ready means of Communication provides

Safety Benefits include
  • Being able to call for help if vehicle is
  • Calling for help in a Medical Emergency
  • Alerting authorities of hazardous road conditions

  • Obtaining directions when lost
  • Alerting authorities of crimes in progress

Reasons for Concern
  • Every year 91 million people use their cell
    phones while driving

Of these, 18 million drivers use their phones on
each trip
  • The NHTSA estimates that at any given moment,
    there are half a million drivers who are talking
    on hand-held cellular phones

What Preliminary Studies have Revealed
  • Talking on a cell phone can impair ability to
    adjust speed due to changes in overall traffic
  • Complex conversation leads to increased reaction
  • Risk of having an accident increases by as much
    as four times when talking on a cell phone

  • Studies have not been widespread enough to
    provide evidence that proves without a doubt that
    using a cell phone increases ones risk of being
    in an accident...

  • Evidence does indicate that talking a cell phone
    while driving may impair driving ability

  • One thing everyone can agree on
  • Talking on a cellular phone while driving vehicle
    can't make you a better driver!

Improving Data Collection
This is the first step in determining whether
using Cell Phones while driving presents a hazard
to Marylands drivers
Police Crash Reports
should include information on whether a Cell
Phone played a role in the accident
(No Transcript)
  • Statistical Data about Cell Phone Involvement in
    accidents can be used in creating Legislature
    that ensures safe driving conditions for all

Possible Alternatives which can be Implemented to
Lower the Risk of a Vehicular Accident while
Talking on a Cell Phone
  • Total ban on cellular telephone use in motor
  • Technology Evaluation and Determination of Safer
    Alternatives for cell phone use in motor
  • Enforcement of Existing Reckless Driving/ Driver
    Inattention Laws and imposing Harsher
  • Advocating Consumer Education to increase public
  • Ban or limit the use of cellular phones for young
    drivers who are already have a higher accident

1. Total Ban
  • According to the New England Journal of Medicine,
    motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of
    death in North America
  • They account for a fatality every 10 minutes
  • The study found that error on the part of drivers
    contributes to over 90 percent of occurrences of
  • Driver error is usually a result of driver

This is the only foolproof solution to eliminate
cellular phones as a distraction to drivers.
  • A cellular telephone can impair many aspects of
    driving performance, but most importantly, a
    drivers attention to the road
  • Reaction time is slowed
  • When caught in a conversation, a drivers
    situational awareness and judgement are impeded
  • Flexibility and the ability to maneuver a turn,
    take an evasive action, or avoid a driver who has
    cut into your lane is reduced

Talking on a cell phone versus other distractions
  • The difference lies in that the drivers reaction
    time is impeded when talking on the phone and
    situational awareness is diverted
  • Drivers react significantly slower to an
    unexpected event during a phone conversation and
    are unaware of traffic movements around them
  • Passengers in the car often alert drivers to
    dangerous situations, in sharp contrast to a
    person at the other end of the cellular phone who
    may not even be aware that the caller is driving
    and therefore will not react to a change in
    driving conditions

The emotional or critical nature of a
conversation is especially distracting to a
driver. They can become lost in thought and may
drift off the road. It is clear that talking o
n the phone while driving drags a driver away
from the immediate surroundings
2. Technology Evaluation and Determination of
Safer Alternatives for Cell Phone Use in Motor
  • With the evolution of small, hand-held cellular
    telephones, there has been increasing concern
    regarding the ability of a driver to operate a
    vehicle safely with one hand, while holding and
    manipulating the phone with the other
  • Wireless companies have come up with many
    innovative solutions to minimize the effects of
    driving and talking on a cell phone.

Hands-Free Technology
  • ATT Wireless is pressing cell phone makers to
    include "ear buds," receivers that fit into the
    ear and dangle a microphone, with every phone
    they sell.
  • Verizon Wireless is requiring phone manufacturers
    to include built-in speakerphones and
    voice-activated dialing by 2002

  • Sprint PCS already offers Voice Command, which
    lets callers recite the number they want to reach

  • Advocating new hands-free technology as a safer
    alternative to hands held phones would minimize
    driver distraction caused by manipulating a cell

3. Enforcing Existing Laws and Increasing
Penalties to Ensure Safer Driving Habits
  • Maryland has laws about reckless and negligent
  • Punishment is a notoriously poor motivator unless
    it is swift, reasonably severe, and very certain
  • Enforcement of negligent and reckless driving
    does not currently fulfill any of these three

4. Consumer Education
  • There is widespread agreement that a public
    education campaign should be undertaken which
    addresses the implications of driving while
    talking on a cellular phone
  • The distraction potential of cellular phones may
    be minimized if users are aware of the hazards
    and use cellular technology wisely

Employers Should Play an Important Role in
  • Workers are more likely to die from traffic
    accidents than any other job hazard
  • Business calls are more likely to distract
    drivers than simple conversations
  • Employers who allow their employees to use their
    cellular phones while driving may be held liable
    for a crash

More Than Consumer Education is Necessary
Past experiences with drunk driving and seat
belts have shown that education alone does not
substantially alter a drivers behavior
5. Young Drivers
  • Young drivers are especially vulnerable to being
    in a vehicular accident
  • Distractions can be dangerous for all drivers.
    They are an outright hazard for young drivers
  • Young drivers are not motivated to avoid risks
    and lack the experience to effective gauge risky
    driver behavior
  • Maryland has been a leader in enacting
    legislation to protect its young drivers

  • Legislation should be considered to ban or limit
    the use of cell phones in moving vehicles
    operated by young drivers
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