The National Safety Council is a nationwide nonprofit which focusses on making things safer on the roads and in the workplace. A recent study by the NSC found that the three biggest causes of fatalities on the road are:
- Alcohol (30%)
- Speeding (30%)
- Distracted Driving (26%)
A few years ago, auto manufacturers and cell phone manufacturers tried to work a technological fix for the dangers of distracted driving. They created hands-free interaction, like Siri. However, those technologies may be giving us a false sense of security.
A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the distraction caused by hands-free devices was roughly equal to the distraction caused by manual texting. The study found that drivers who were texting hands-free had their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel, but that they were subject to a phenomenon called "inattention blindness," in which they are looking at the road, but failing to process half of the information before them.
According to the National Safety Council,
- Distracted drivers tend to miss visual cues such as exits, red lights and stop signs.
- Driver reaction and response time become delayed as they are required to “attention switch,” causing a delay in a driver's braking reaction time.
- Driver reaction time with use of a hands-free device is slower than the reaction time of driver impaired at a .08 alcohol intoxication concentration, according to the NSC.
Did you get that last one? Driver reaction time with the use of a hands-free device, whether integrated into the car, or one such as Siri on an iPhone, is slower than someone who is over the legal limit for alcohol. That is really a remarkable finding.
So the next time you are tempted to make yourself safer by using the hands-free mode on your cell phone, maybe it would just be a better idea to wait. As I have always said, the best place for a cell-phone, is in the trunk, where you won't be tempted.