Cell Phones During Driving: Threats and Solutions
Driving involves a complex interaction of mental, physical, cognitive, and sensory skills, all of which draw the driver’s attention. However, even with these complexities of driving, drivers still engage in other tasks which divert their attention away from driving increases the risk of a crash, thus endangering his and others life.
New attention and concern have now been directed to the recent hi-tech advancements in wireless communication such as cell phones. (Maclure 501)
The widespread growth in the wireless communication industry in the past decade has been accompanied by mounting worries about the potential dangers of drivers using cell phones from moving vehicles. This is in a mission to save lives, prevent injuries, and decrease traffic-related costs through regulation, educational programs, and research on this issue.
From the many research carried out, it has been found that cell phone use is not the only distraction for drivers. Instead, there are others and maybe even more hazardous than phones such as talking to passengers, eating, drinking, lighting cigarettes, applying makeup, and with the advancement of technology, drivers can now surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail and even watch television. (Brookhuis 310)
As we know most of the people spend most of their time commuting and they place great meaning on keeping up with their duties, most people will try to maximize their time in the automobile by doing other things at the same time, it should, therefore, be unrealistic to conclude that drivers should not have cell phones in vehicle because they might be a source of distraction.
Instead of prohibiting the use of cell phones, the aim should be to make in-vehicle communication compatible with safe driving, which can be accomplished through the use of good engineering and individual factor plan and practice. (Evans 283)
Instead of prohibiting the use of cell phones in vehicles, they can be turned into advantage of the driver by installing programs that focus on how he can utilize the phone in the vehicle to support efficient and effective tragedy response by being able to access emergency services from vehicles, getting information on traffic and road conditions through reports of congestion and crashes. (Maclure 501)
Drivers should place their phones within easy reach; know the features in their phones and how to use them safely. The features include; speed dial, voice activation, and letting the voicemail take calls whenever they can not reach the phone or are in difficult driving conditions.
Drivers should be encouraged to use hands-free devices that are less bad than distraction caused by a conversation with a passenger. This is because while talking, there are people who have to look at the person they are talking to, and they would not avoid even if they are driving.
Care should, however, be taken in usage of hand-free phones because they might cause a false sense of safety to the drivers which might encourage them to make calls which they would have avoided, they should therefore learn to be attentive to their driving and should keep in mind that they are taking a risk while talking on the phone, eating or dealing with any other form of distraction while driving. (Brown 420)
What goes under-reported about cell phones is that they might play a role in case of accidents where they can be used to help ask for help in emergencies far quicker and accurately than if people relied on landlines alone. This, therefore, would not be possible if the use of cell phones were to be prohibited since no drivers will carry their cell phones with them, knowing that they are not allowed by law. (Parkes 221)
Nevertheless, The effect of cell phone use by drivers’ amount to threat of safety than it interferes with the vehicle control, this has caused mounting worry over the safety of using cell phones by drivers, mostly in the public sector and this is mainly reflected by the increasing number of government initiatives that address on the use of cell phones in vehicles.
Cell phone by drivers causes subway vision which continues even after the conversation ends because the driver is still thinking about it. The driver should let the person making the call be aware that he or she is driving so that they can suspend their call if necessary since there is a study that shows that most accidents occur while drivers are in the middle of conversations and not when they are dialing or answering calls.
The rate at which phones cause vehicle control can also be reduced by the use of speed dials and by calling or receiving calls only when conditions allow. According to a recent survey conducted in Texas, it indicated that more than 75% of drivers of age between 18 and 30 years at one time or another send a message while driving, laws should be enacted prohibiting such behaviors including changing tunes on iPod or changing a setting on a steering system which takes a driver’s attention off the road while driving. (Brookhuis 311)
Drivers should, therefore, take care of how long their eyes go off the road and should not take more than two seconds because by doing so, they will be putting people in a risky situation.
They should not be allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving irrespective of whether they are using handheld or hands-free cell phones as this will keep their brain off the road; what causes distraction is the conversation and according to research carried out it reduces brain activity related to driving by 38%. Handheld devices should be allowed if and only if they are being used for the safe operation of the vehicle. (Handler 74)
Legislation should be introduced that would fine pedestrians who listen to music players while crossing streets and motor vehicles, which contains a television, computer, or another machine with a display screen visible to the driver.
The only display device that should be allowed is if it is being used for commercial purposes to track the location of the vehicle, to check on the status of the driver, as a collision-avoidance system, or is a gadget that is to provide the driver with information regarding the condition of various systems of the vehicle.
It is clear also that when drivers use cell phones while driving, their reaction times become slow irrespective of their age as there is still risk among those drivers who have owned a phone over many years, which is not due to lack of experience but a basic restriction of the driving act.
Cell phones then should be used wisely, at the right time, and not to be used at all when extra concentration is required, in heavy traffic, in bad weather, when the conversation might be traumatizing and in unfamiliar roadways. (Parkes 227)
In Conclusion, drivers should be educated on the range of distractions they face, reminded that safety should always be their first responsibility and since no study has proven that cell phones cause accidents drivers should be allowed to choose whether or not to use a cell while driving without prohibiting their personal rights. However, whoever does not comply with the stipulated rules should be ready to face the consequences (Brookhuis 316).
Cell phones get a bad reputation as a distraction to the driver debate being directed towards holding the phone, which is not the problem; the main issue is thinking. Actually, whatever the drivers do that causes distraction, including arguing with their spouse is a danger, and they should always bear in mind that their first responsibility behind the wheel is safe, and if they should use their cell phones while driving, they should do so correctly.
Therefore instead of focusing on prohibiting the use of phones in automobiles, the focus should shift to how cell phone use can be made easy and safe for everyone inside and outside of the vehicle and how they can be a lifesaving tool by guiding one to emergency situations. (Evans 1991)
I, therefore, do not think that drivers should be banned from using their cell phones; this is because when they are issued with driver licenses, they are deemed both responsible and capable of making decisions behind the wheel.
Instead, they should be educated on the range of distractions they face because drivers have been involved in accidents caused by careless driving for years, even before the introduction of cell phones. They should be attentive to their driving and always remember that while talking on the phone, texting, eating, smoking, and/or tuning the radio, they should not take their attention off the road.
Brookhuis, K. A., de Vries, G., & de Waard, D. The effects of mobile telephoning on driving performance. Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 23 (4), (1991) 309-316.
Brown, I. D., Tickner, A. H., & Simmonds, D. C. V. “Interference between concurrenttasks of driving and telephoning.” Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 53 (5), (1969) 419-424
Evans, L.Traffic Safety and the Driver. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. (1991) 282-309
S. and Parkes, A. (Eds.), Driving future vehicles London: Taylor and Francis. (1993) 219-228
Handler, S.J. Mobile Computing & Communications, February, 1997, 64-74
Maclure, M. & Mittleman, “cautions about car telephones and collisions.” The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 336 (7), (1997) 501-502.
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