The Sad Role Of Phone Use While Driving In Car Crashes
Phone use while driving is a leading cause of road accidents in America. In fact, use of phones while driving causes 500,000 injuries annually in the U.S alone.
How Dangerous Is Distracted Driving?
There are three main types of distractions that we can experience: visual, manual, and cognitive. Texting while driving is extremely dangerous as it ticks off all three. It takes our eyes and hands away from driving as we reach for our phone and distracts us as we ponder and respond to messages.
Even though it may only take 5 seconds to read a text message, taking our eyes off the road at 55MPH for that long is the equivalent of driving the distance of a football field, blind!
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 36% of drivers are guilty of using their smartphones at a red light. But more disturbing is that 35% of drivers continue phone use once the light turns green.
It’s hard to imagine how grave a situation can be just by reading statistics. But reading news and stories about how dangerous phone-based distracted driving is, can change our perspective and make us realize that any of us can be the next victim of this unsafe road behavior.
In 2019, a Dodge Charger rear-ended a minivan in Dunkirk, NY, causing the minivan to do a full 360-degree rotation before halting more than a hundred feet away. The minivan was carrying five passengers ages 66 to 75, most of which were seriously injured in the accident. Two of them were paralyzed, while the others suffered from cuts and broken bones.
The accident was caused by a trooper who was later found to be texting while driving throughout his shift. Distracted driving is the reason why the trooper failed to see the slow traffic ahead of him and was not able to slow down in time to avoid a collision.
A somewhat similar accident happened to a member of the New York State Police in 2017. A trooper pulled up behind a parked car near the Long Island Expressway. After putting down flares to help the motorist, a speeding vehicle struck the police officer. The trooper suffered a brain trauma which he never recovered from, and was the cause of his death three years later.
In both cases, the damage caused by the incidents was irreversible. No amount of fine or lawsuit can restore the lives lost or the injuries felt by the victims.
What Are We Doing To Eliminate Distracted Driving?
Several US states have banned phone use while driving and encourage hands-free use to reduce road accidents. This action showed a positive effect to some extent as the number of driver fatalities has declined from 1999 to 2016. Hands-free laws have prevented hundreds of driver deaths and 13,900 driving-related injuries annually in the US.
However, the study saw neither decrease in non-driver fatalities nor the total number of vehicle accident-related deaths. This means that there should be better supplementary practices that can reduce phone use while driving and make the roads safer for everyone.
4 Ways to Prevent Phone Use While Driving
Use a smartphone mount
Mounting your phone near eye level makes it convenient to use for navigation. Putting it within your normal line of sight eliminates the need to look down on your phone, minimizing the time your eyes are off the road. It also prevents texting while driving, so you can keep both hands on the wheel.
Placing the phone on the dashboard also makes it easier to switch to hands-free mode for receiving calls. Voice commands can also be sent clearer since your phone is positioned farther from the car speakers.
Set your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’
It’s natural to reach for our smartphones when we hear them ring. The beep we hear elicits our response to immediately see what the alert is all about. Our curiosity often gets the better of us and it’s hard to fight it.
One of the easiest ways you can deal with distracted driving is to set your phone to ‘Silent’ or ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. This eliminates the stimulus, preventing phone use while driving.
Depending on your phone settings, you can let messages or calls from certain contacts come through. You can also have Siri read messages aloud if they’re tagged as urgent.
Put your phone away
Sometimes, seeing our phones is enough to have us pick them up and see if someone sent a message or to just simply check on updates on social media. Even if there are no notifications, device addiction has been ingrained in our habits. We spend an average of 4 to 5 hours a day on smartphones, which is a considerable increase when compared to the past years.
To completely remove the dangers of using mobile phones while driving, put your phone in the backseat, inside your bag, or stash it somewhere hard to reach. Without hearing alert sounds or seeing the screen light up for messages that arrived, you’ll be able to focus on the road and avoid distracted driving.
Use the TASL smartphone app
Putting away your phone puts an end to distracted driving, but it can also be impractical. You won’t see incoming messages, calls, or alerts, especially if they’re urgent. You also won’t be able to use your phone for navigation because the phone is stashed away.
What if there’s a way to get rewarded for avoiding phone use while driving? What if earning points is so fun, exciting, and rewarding that you’ll never go back to texting while driving?
We’ve created This App Saves Lives (TASL) to help people avoid the dangers of using mobile phones while driving. We want to eliminate accidents caused by phone-based distractions through rewards and not punishments.
We believe that positive reinforcement is the best method to prevent phone-based distracted driving. Through a rewards-based, ‘carrot not the stick’ approach, we aim to remove the habit of phone use while driving and help people be more responsible drivers; something that no punitive law or strict legislation can do.
Earning TASL points is easy. All you have to do is download the free app, sign-up, and start earning points. The app automatically detects if you’re driving and begins accumulating points in the background. So long as you stick with using the phone for hands-free calls, navigation, and music, you’ll keep earning points. You can redeem these points for freebies and discounts from top-tier brands in dining, retail, online shops, fitness, outdoor, and leisure or recreation.
Years of statistics and countless news on road accidents have proven the hazards of phone use while driving. Every year, millions of road accidents happen, resulting in thousands of deaths — and that’s just in the US alone. But this doesn’t always have to be the case.
By using the TASL app, we can avoid distracted driving caused by smartphone addiction and improve road behavior. Together, we can make the roads safer while earning rewards for doing so.