Cell phone usage has exponentially increased in the past decade. The wireless connectivity as well as the multiple facilities provided by the cell phones has made them immensely popular. The cell phones have now become not just means of communication for people, but more like personal storage and computing devices which can be used to perform multiple activities and functions. On the other hand the increase in the cell phone usage has had an adverse effect on the driving on the roads. People want to be able to constantly be in touch with their work and family, as a result they tend to use the cell phones in their cars while driving. This phenomenon however has made the number of accidents resulting in death and injury due to the usage of a cell phone while driving increases multiple folds. This paper as a result talks about the disadvantages of using a cell phone while driving and how it can result in a higher rate of accident rate in the region.
Cell phone usage has been closely linked with increasing the rate of road side accidents taking place. People normally tend to compensate for the lack of handling a phone while driving by using hands free set stating that it leaves their hands free for driving. Well as driving requires the presence of the person in both the physical and mental states, it tends not to provide much of a help in urgent circumstances. A research was conducted in 2003 on the effects of the hand free cell phone usage while driving. The results of the study stated that the conversation that were conducted by the driver through the hands free set made the drivers reactions to the vehicles braking in front of him being be impaired and much slower. The study explained this impairment to be a result of the lack of attention and the withdrawal of the driver form the present driving. This resulted inn a form of a temporary blindness. More over the study also stated that the mobile phone conversation was also highly responsible for making the driver ignore and not see the explicit information posted on the billboards along the side of the road. “Eye-tracking data indicated that this was due to reduced attention to foveal information. This interpretation was bolstered by data showing that cell phone conversations impaired implicit perceptual memory for items presented at fixation. The data suggest that the impairment of driving performance produced by cell phone conversations is mediated, at least in part, by reduced attention to visual inputs” (Strayer, Drews, Johnston, 2003).
Another study on the cellular telephones and driving performance was conducted on the effects of attention demands on motor vehicle crash risk by James Hunton and Jacob Rose in 2005. The study made use of simulated driving experiments where the drivers used hands free sets as well as took the test without using the phones. The study was able to prove that the telephone conversations on the mobile set tend to distract the driving making him more prone to the risk of a motor vehicle crash. The reason for this was identified that “cell phone conversations lack the nonverbal cues available during close-contact conversations and conversation participants expend significant cognitive resources to compensate for the lack of such cues” (Hunton & Rose, 2005).
In order to support these results evidence can also be provided form a user interview poll in which the consumers and active users of cell phones responded to the study by progressive.com. The study depicted that 41 percent of the respondents confessed to swerving into the wrong lane when driving while using the cell phone. “One study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that drivers who frequently use their cell phones while driving are four times more likely to have an accident than drivers who do not” (‘Cell Phone Safety’, 2002).
A study conducted by Kass, Cole, & Stanny in 2007 assessed the situational awareness of the experienced as well as the novice drivers. The experimental study was able to point out that the novice drivers were more prone to committing traffic violations and infarctions However when the novice and the experiences driver both used cell phones, their performance equaled which was much lower than their normal driving performance. Another hazard pertaining to the use of cell phones while driving has been the increase in the aggression of the driver. As a response to news like this the Arnold Schwarzenegger has banned teenagers from using cell phones while driving. Aside form this New York, Rhode Island as well as the states of Massachusetts, California and Florida have banned the usage of cell phones while driving. In other instances restrictions on the usage of cell phones by the drivers have also been imposed.
The party that is most effected by the increase in the vehicular crash rates has been the insurance companies. They are losing investment in large amounts over a short period of time. As a result they have been actively persuading safety precautions for drivers pertaining to the use of cell phones while driving. One of the main proposals state that the cell phones usage should be prohibited by law when driving and should only be used in case emergencies.
Other suggestions for the restriction of the cell phone usage include using a hands free device which leaves the hands free. However as it is also dangerous, they should be very sparingly used. Another option is to make and receive calls when the car is stationary, a better strategy would be to pull over to the side of the road or park in an empty place before attending and making a call from the car. The conversations which are conducted through cell phones on the car should also be kept small in duration so as to decrease the time of impairment for the driver. When the driver is involves in heavy traffic of maneuvering through tricky spots, the driver shot ignore the call and explain later. This is a better strategy than explaining the car crash to the relevant people.
Conclusively it is best to state that driving while using a cell phone is apparently more dangerous that driving under the influence of alcohol. This increases the risk of the driver being involved in a motor vehicle road side accident. Therefore in order to avoid this form taking place the governments of the various states should ban the use of cell phones while driving. Where this is not applicable, the use of cell phones should be restricted by the government. Some of the restrictions that can be imposed pertain to transferring calls to voice mail or pulling out of the road to attend to a call while driving.
“Cell Phone Safety”, Leadership for the Front Lines, 2002, Issue 421, p2.
Hunton, J., Rose, Job M., “Cellular Telephones and Driving Performance: The Effects of Attentional Demands on Motor Vehicle Crash Risk”, Risk Analysis: An International Journal, 2005, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p855-866.
Kass, S.J., Cole, K.S., Stanny, C.J., “Effects of distraction and experience on situation awareness and simulated driving”, Transportation Research, 2007, Vol. 10 Issue 4, pp. 321-329.
Ma, R., Kaber, D., “Situation awareness and workload in driving while using adaptive cruise control and a cell phone”, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 2005, Vol. 35 Issue 10, pp. 939-953.
McGarva, A.R., Ramsey, M., Shear, S.A., “Effects of Driver Cell-Phone Use on Driver Aggression”, Journal of Social Psychology, 2006, Vol. 146 Issue 2, pp.133-146.
Strayer, D.L., Drews, F.A., Johnston, W.A., “Cell Phone-Induced Failures of Visual Attention During Simulated Driving”, Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2003, Vol. 9 Issue 1, pp. 23-32.