|July 18, 2007
USRider Reminds Drivers of Dangers of Using Cell Phones While Driving
Lexington, Ky. (July 18, 2007) – These days it seems almost everyone has a cell phone. In fact, more than 80 percent of Americans do have cell phones. According to the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, more than 236 million people in the United States subscribed to such wireless communication devices as cell phones as of May 2007, compared with approximately 4.3 million in 1990. These connected people can be seen talking and sending text messages while they’re out shopping, dining, waiting in line and even while driving.
Overhearing someone’s private conversation can be irritating when you’re trying to enjoy a nice dinner, and it’s distracting when trying to watch a movie. However, those private conversations can spell danger when they distract someone who’s trying to talk or – even worse – text while driving an automobile.
“Driving is an activity that demands close attention,” said Mark Cole, managing member for USRider. “In addition to watching what you’re doing behind the wheel, you also have to keep an eye on other drivers. To do this, you must keep your focus on driving, which means keep the phone calls to a minimum. And, under no circumstances should anyone be sending text messages while driving.”
Through its Equestrian Motor Plan, USRider offers nationwide roadside assistance especially for equestrians. The plan includes standard features such as flat-tire repair, battery assistance and lockout services, plus towing up to 100 miles and roadside repairs for tow vehicles and trailers with Horses, emergency stabling, veterinary and farrier referrals, and more.
Increased reliance on cell phones has led to a rise in the number of people who use the devices while driving. The most recent survey of dangerous driver behavior was released in January 2007 by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. The survey of 1,200 drivers found that 73 percent talk on cell phones while driving. Unfortunately, countless others are beginning to use cell phones to send text messages while driving.
Driving while using a cell phone can pose a serious distraction and impair driver performance. Using a cell phone while driving poses two dangers. First, drivers must take their eyes off the road while dialing or texting. With their eyes off the road, drivers cannot see what’s happening ahead. So if they’re approaching trouble, they won’t be able to take steps to avert a collision. Texting is an even more dangerous distraction because drivers take their eyes off the road for extended periods to type out messages. The second danger is that people can become so absorbed in their conversations that they don’t pay attention to the road.
For these reasons, USRider urges drivers to use extreme caution when driving, especially when trailering horses.
Since the first law was passed in New York in 2001 banning handheld cell-phone use while driving, there has been debate as to the exact nature and degree of hazard. The latest research shows that while using a cell phone when driving may not be the most dangerous distraction, it is by far the most common factor in crashes and near-crashes attributed to driver distraction.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) doesn’t have specific data but on the number of crashes caused by cell phone use specifically; however, it’s estimated that driver distraction from all sources contributes to 25 percent of all police-reported traffic crashes. In The 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, a study conducted by NHTSA and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, it was found that almost 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds of the event. The study, released in April 2006, found that the most common distraction is the use of cell phones, followed by drowsiness.
USRider advises drivers to make every effort to move to a safe place off of the road before using a cell phone. However, in an emergency, a driver must use his or her judgment regarding the urgency of the situation and the necessity to use a cell phone while driving.
For more information about USRider and more equine trailer safety tips, visit the USRider website at www.usrider.org or call (800) 844-1409.