The popularity of mobile devices has had very dangerous consequences. Studies worldwide have proven that mobile communications whilst driving are linked to significant increases in distraction. Such distractions can result in injury and loss of life.
The simple act of talking on the phone whilst driving (whether holding a mobile phone or using it handsfree) is distracting. However the most dangerous form of mobile communication while driving is texting.
Numerous studies have focused on the effect of general mobile communications on driving habits and distractibility. Relatively few studies have specifically focused on texting and driving. This may reflect the assumption that if talking on a mobile phone increases risk, then texting also increases risk.
A simulation study at Melbourne’s Monash University Accident Research Center (MUARC) provided strong evidence of this. Retrieving and sending text messages has a major detrimental effect on a number of safety-critical driving measures. Measures such as detecting and responding correctly to road signs and hazards. Also increasing the time during which the driver’s eyes are off the road. Of major concern is that text messaging had the greatest relative risk with drivers of trucks and heavy vehicles. Such drivers were 23 times more likely to experience a safety-critical event when texting. It is not hard to imagine the damage that could be caused through the loss of control of a B-double semi-trailer on a major highway or freeway.
Several studies have compared the dangers of texting while driving with drink driving or driving under the influence of drugs. Research has shown that texting while driving slowed a driver’s reaction time more than driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Reaction times decreased by 37% when texting and driving, 27% during hands-free calls, 21% when under the influence of cannabis and 13% when drinking and driving at the limit of .080% BAC.
Drivers typically take their eyes off the roadway for an average of four out of six seconds when texting. Travelling at 89 km/h, a driver texting for 6 seconds is looking at the phone for 4.6 seconds of that time. They travel the distance of a football field without their eyes on the road.
The dangers of mobile phone use whilst driving, and in particular texting and driving, are well known. Even so, it is alarming how often we witness this behaviour. How often have you noticed that the vehicle in front is slow to take off at lights because the driver is not paying attention and texting? When following behind a vehicle how often have you noticed it drifting from side to side because the driver is texting? Have you seen drivers with a phone in their hand while holding the steering wheel or looking down at their lap whilst driving? It happens too often. And even if you have only seen it once, you have seen it once too often.
We all need to be aware of the dangers of texting and driving, not engage in this behaviour and to encourage others not to do so. There is a need to spread the message of the danger associated with texting and driving. The following video is a very graphic yet very effective means of spreading the message that was used in Japan – http://themetapicture.com/everyone-in-the-theater/
For more information telephone either Peter Burt or Clara Davies, specialist TAC Claims Lawyers of Burt & Davies, Level 11, 451 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne. They are both Accredited Personal Injury Lawyers who practice exclusively in transport accident compensation & TAC claims.
Telephone (03) 9605 3111 or freecall 1800 109 940
© Burt & Davies 2014