Repost from 2011. Four seconds. That’s the average time it takes a person to dial a telephone and press send. It can take even more time to type and send a text message. Four seconds may not seem long, but for drivers, every second their eyes are off the road is an opportunity for an accident to occur. In fact, driving at 55 mph, a vehicle will travel more than 322 feet in four seconds. While most people would never drive four seconds with their eyes closed, there is no difference between that and drivers taking their eyes off the road to dial a cell phone.

At any given time, 11 percent of all drivers are on their cell phones, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The most dangerous behaviors are those that cause the driver to look away from the road or take their hands off the wheel. These distractions can include reaching for a cell phone, dialing a number, and reading or typing a text message. The FMCSA reported that people who dial cell phones while driving are six times more likely and people who text while driving are 23 times more likely to have an accident. However, even the at of talking on the phone while driving is a distraction.

Drivers may not realize it, but the conversations they have mentally draw their attention away from what’s happening on the road, causing them to be less focused and aware. Studies conducted by the NSC and Carnegie Mellon University show that hands-free devices do not eliminate distracted driving. Contrary to popular belief, the brain does not actually have the ability to multi-task or focus on two tasks at once, instead, the brain addresses tasks sequentially, switching from one to another. The time it takes to switch tasks could delay a driver’s recognition of a hazard by more than 1.75 seconds and their reaction time by even more.

Last week (November 23, 2011) the FMCSA issued a long-awaited final ruling specifically prohibiting interstate commercial truck and bus drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. Driver who violate the restriction will face federal civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense and will be disqualified from operating a CMV after multiple offenses. FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro says “Drivers must keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and head in the game when operating on our roads. Lives are at stake.”

Includes excerpt from “The Quill” November 2011

Baldwin & Lyons, Inc.

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