The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Using Cellular Phones Increases Accident Risk

November 2006, by Staff

Cellular phones have revolutionized the way Americans conduct business. Typically long commutes have been transformed into productive work time.

The problem is, many drivers have been paying too close attention to “closing the big deal” and not enough attention to the road. The problem of cellular phone-related accidents has become so significant, a number of studies have been conducted to assess the situation.

A study by Canadian researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine likened the dangers of talking on a cell phone behind the wheel to driving while drunk.

According to a 1998 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “An Investigation of the Safety Implications of Wireless Communications in Vehicles,” cars driven by people talking on a cell phone were more likely to be the striking vehicle in an accident. And more than dialing, talking on a cellular phone is the major distraction in cellular-related crashes, while being startled by an unexpected call was also reported as a factor.

Even though the NHTSA report shows statistics are limited concerning cellular phone-related accidents, it concludes cellular phones, in fact, increase the likelihood of drivers getting in accidents.

One company, Ameritech Cellular, introduced its “Keep Your Mind on the Drive” public-service campaign. The following 10 tips should help drivers stay safe while talking on their cellular phones.

1.Motorists should focus complete attention on the road.

2.Avoid talking on the phone in congested areas or in bad weather. Exit the highway, if necessary, to dial or complete a conversation.

3.In heavy traffic or hazardous conditions, let your voice messaging service take the call. Check and return your messages after locating an accessible exit or rest area.

4.If you can’t safely exit the highway, stay in the slow lane and pay particular attention to the traffic conditions when phoning. Better yet, have a passenger dial.

5.Don’t take notes while driving. If you need to write one, pull over.

6.Use your hands-free speakerphone and speed dialing functions whenever possible. Keep both hands on the wheel.

7.Be familiar with your phone’s keypad. Use the speed-dial functions whenever possible to minimize dialing time. If possible, add voice-activated dialing to your phone.

8."Keep your mind on the drive” at all times.

9.Keep the phone in the holder when not in use. That way it won’t pop out and distract you while driving.

10.Know when to stop talking. Keep conversations brief so you can concentrate on driving. If a long conversation is required, if a topic is stressful or emotional, or if driving becomes hazardous, end your call, and continue when not in traffic.

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