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Sharp Drive Discuss Driver Mobile Phone Use
Wednesday 11 October 2017, 1:54PM
By Beckie Wright

There are many distractions for a driver in the car; eating, drinking, using the GPS, reading maps, listening to the radio, smoking and conversation, so why is it that so many governments are banning mobile phone use – the evidence in a crash would be obvious. There has been sufficient data collected, now supported by phone call records, show that mobile phone calls and texting top the list as crash causing distractions.

No matter where we are, at home or at work, the ringing of a mobile phone tends to command our full attention. Driver tests and crash investigations have shown that the simple ringing of the phone at the wrong time, without even answering it, can have enough impact or reaction to cause a bad crash. Most mobile phone laws ban testing and manual operation of the phone, allowing ‘hands free’ use only, but crash research is now showing that other distractions are not the main cause of these crashes.

The fatal distractions are primarily the ones that take your mental attention and, secondly, your visual attention away from the driving of the car. A phone call will engage your intellect and your emotions, and it’s easy enough to disengage you from the task in hand. Any call involving emotion takes our focus away from driving, so we go on autopilot – that’s when crashes happen.

Why is talking on a cell phone different to talking to a passenger?  When a passenger sees a hazard, they stop talking. Also passengers also alert drivers to hazards. Mobile phone calls take more mental effort. It’s also been found that testing, while looking at the road is just as bad as looking down to text – it’s the message, not the keying that is the distraction.

It’s easy to spot drivers using a phone; their speed varies, they wander across lanes and fail to indicate. Mobile phone use is the equivalent to driving with a 0.08 blood alcohol level. Mobile phone use increases crash probability by 400%. Phone use causes fatal and serious crashes. Phone use causes road rage.

Turn off your phone while you are driving, divert calls to your office or home and pull over to make calls and check messages. A law that makes manual use of a phone illegal does not make hands free use any safer, only allowable. There is only one rule that will keep you safe. “Engine on, phone off”.

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