April - Cell Phone Safety & Distractions
Cell Phone Safety & Distractions
In just a few short years cell phones have gone from a luxury and a “status symbol” to a necessary part of doing business. As with any new innovation, spoils arise with these innovations. The use of cell phones while driving has become a major safety problem. Exxon-Mobil has banned their drivers from using cell phones while driving. The National Safety Council has recognized and praised Exxon for their stand on cell phone safety.
Additionally, many insurance companies won’t write auto coverage for organizations that don’t ban cell phone use by employees while driving. Instigating a policy of this nature is not easy, as one would imagine, but it can be done. Employers not only don’t mind the use of phones, but also see it as a positive to gain more productivity from their employees. The first selling job with employers and employees is to convince them. that cell phone use is hazardous. Many people still don’t recognize that cell phone use is dangerous and hazardous.
It is hard to convince employers that cell phone use while driving is extremely dangerous. In one case, bustos vs. leiva, the defendant, an employee driver, had been making a sales call at the time of the accident. It awarded the plaintiff $20.98 million. The judge later reduced it to $16.1 million. Obviously, this is still a huge liability, one that could put many companies out of business. So when employers stop to think of the monetary liability involved, they sit up and take notice.
Once employers are persuaded of the possible liability involved, the next step is to convince the employees of the dangers and hazards involved. There are studies that show:
- How cell phone usage impairs driving
- Cell phone users are four times more likely than non-cell users to get into accidents.
- Cell phone users have the same risk of accidents as those driving with a blood alcohol level at the legal limit.
- Cell phone users take three times longer to activate their brakes than drivers under the influence of alcohol.
- Cell phone conversations distract the driver from the driving environment and potential hazards. This can lead to many unsafe actions, such as;
- ~Not following at an appropriate distance in adverse driving conditions,
- ~Not maintaining proper lane position,
- ~Not noticing or not recognizing traffic signals.
Studies have proven that there is no difference in the level of safety between hand-held phones and hands-free phones devices. Another study has shown that vehicles with cell phones inside are 34% more accident prone than those without a phone.
Following is a list of some of the hazards associated with cell phone use. I hope none of us are guilty of these hazards and if we are or have been, we should get conscious of what can happen with the unsafe use of cell phones.
- Users are said to be distracted from defensive driving practices and less responsive to highway traffic situations. When they do react, their response time is longer.
- People on the phone are more likely to have intense conversations that involve problem solving, which is more distracting than “shooting the bull” with a passenger.
- Passengers in the car can often alert drivers to dangerous situations, and stop talking at such times, in contrast to someone on the other end of the line who is unaware of the traffic situation.
- Cell phone users may be concentrating on dialing a number, handling equipment and fail to notice a stop sign, a traffic light or a vehicle in front of them.
- Not only the driver on the phone, but also other drivers on the roadway are at increased risk if a cell phone user is the ultimate cause of an accident.
SAFETY TIPS FOR CELL PHONE USERS
- Keep conversations short and sweet. Come up with solutions to keep long-winded friends and associates from tying up the phone while on the road.
- Hang up the phone in tricky traffic situations-without warning if necessary. Safe driving takes precedence over telephone etiquette. Explain the cut off later, because you’ll still be alive to do so.
- Avoid dialing a number while you are on the move and in heavy traffic. Wait until you’re at a traffic light or stop sign.
- Keep extra distance between you and the car in front of you, even more than the book says for extra safety.
- Consider the purchase of a hands-free speaker system. This way you can at least keep your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road - - and still keep talking. Speakerphones are available for many popular telephone models. Even some states have proposed legislation that requires the use of these devices.
A fact that we are well aware of that all drivers are prone to have an accident before, during or after work. Cell phone usage contributes to this risk. PLEASE review the tips above and don’t create another statistic!
AN ACCIDENT IS ONLY AN ATTITUDE AWAY!!
Excerpts: toolboxtopics.com / safetyxchange-org
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.