How many Americans use their mobile phones at least occasionally when behind
the wheel and working their way through traffic?
Reportedly, close to 70 million of them.
That’s food for thought, isn’t it?
And there’s this, too: Many of those motorists are chatty, with their
exchanges being far longer than the time it takes to simply signal an
“I’m on the way” message or other short communication.
If you’re driving in Mississippi, for example (the state faring worst
nationally in a phone-use study), the “average” motorist you
see with a phone to mouth is on his or her mobile device for nearly 8%
of total driving time. Drivers in other states aren’t far off that mark.
The author of the above study is Zendrive, a company that uses smartphone
data to measure drivers’ behind-the-wheel behaviors and performance.
Zendrive’s findings culled from examination of approximately 4.5 million
motorists driving many billions of miles reveal lots of information. The
most revealing takeaway might be that distracted driving as measured by
motorists’ time spent on the phone is a growing problem in every state
except for Vermont. That state bans handheld phones, with law enforcers
reportedly making strong efforts to spot and penalize offenders.
Zendrive cites a
clear link between increasing in-cabin distractions and a growing national
death toll on roads and highways. The National Safety Council states that there were
more than 40,000 auto-linked deaths last year.
Can that number be reduced? Arguably it can, but perhaps only if safety
regulators draft and rigidly enforce more stringent anti-phone laws.
For the record,
Indiana’s laws concerning behind-the-wheel phone use are fairly mainstream. Indiana joins most other states in banning texting
while driving (it might surprise some readers that texting is not banned
everywhere across the country). Motorists under 18 are also prohibited
from using phones while driving in Indiana.