This follows-up on my post earlier this week about the Applied Cognition Laboratory at the University of Utah joining forces with NPR‘s "Car Talk" to combat distracted driving. The Applied Cognition Laboratory has another partner that is in the trenches taking on this very tough issue.
FocusDriven is an advocacy group aimed at a cell free driving. Here is how they describe themselves:
FocusDriven is an advocacy group for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers using cell phones. We work with those who support our mission and want to make our roadways safer for all motorists.
We help victims and their families share their experiences in a healing manner that promotes safety and educates others about the tragic outcomes that can result from driving while using a cell phone.
We encourage those who support our efforts to join us. Share with friends, family, coworkers and legislators your thoughts about motorists engaging in this deadly behavior. Help us keep motorists and others we share the roads with safe.
One major focus is raising awareness of the dangers of the use of cell phones while driving:
Distractions are the leading cause of motor vehicle crashes and the number one distraction is cell phones. The use of a cell phone while driving is a very high-risk behavior with a significant impact on society. This is due to the vast number of people engaging in the behavior and the cognitive distraction drivers experience when engaged in cell phone conversations. More than 50 peer-reviewed scientific studies have identified the risks associated with cell phone use while driving.
- CTIA – The Wireless Association reports there are more than 270 million cell phone subscribers, this is up dramatically from 100 million subscribers in 2000. An estimated 110 billion text messages were sent monthly in 2008.
- A Nationwide Insurance public opinion poll showed 81 percent of the public admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving. And NHTSA estimates that 11 percent of drivers at any point during the day are talking on cell phones while driving.
- Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. Two different studies found this same conclusion, a 1997 New England Journal of Medicine examination of hospital records and 2005 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study linking crashes to cell phone records.
- No difference exists in the cognitive distraction (the mental process of knowing, which includes awareness, judgment and perception) between handheld and hands-free devices, according to simulator studies conducted at the Univ. of Utah.
- One recent simulator study compared drivers using cell phones and drivers impaired by alcohol. Cell phone users had slower reaction times than drivers with .08 BAC and slower reaction to vehicles braking in front of them.
- Many businesses and organizations understand the risk and are already taking action. Among National Safety Council members who responded to a 2009 survey, 58 percent (1,163 out of 2,004 respondents) said their organization had a cell phone policy of some kind. Of those, 99 percent said the policy resulted in no decrease in productivity and 20 percent saw decreases in employee crash rates and property damage.
- A Carnegie Mellon study took pictures of the brain while drivers listened to sentences and drove on a simulator. The drivers listening to sentences had a 37 percent reduction in spatial awareness, which can directly contribute to cognitive distraction.
- For adults, talking to a passenger while driving is significantly safer than talking on a cell phone, a University of Utah study found. Passengers, unlike cell phone conversations, can make the driver aware of changing road conditions they might not see and can stop the conversation if traffic conditions warrant.
They offer a support network for victims:
Victim Support Network – For victims and their loved ones to engage with FocusDriven.
And opportunities to get involved:
Get Involved – For individuals looking to provide advocacy support such as writing legislators or sharing information on safe driving practices with friends and family members.
This is a very important issue that impacts us all so if you are so inclined, get involved.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.