Drivers Behaving Badly, Even Without Cell Phones

Drivers who are under the age of 18 in the state of North Carolina are prohibited from using a hand-held cell phone behind the wheel. All drivers are prohibited from text messaging while driving in the state, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
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According to a recent publication by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), these bans might be getting drivers to put down their phones while they’re behind the wheel, but they’re not helping to make them a safer driver. According to a recent study, people who use their cell phone behind the wheel are just as unsafe behind the wheel when there’s no phone in the picture. Experts believe that these findings may help to explain why distracted driving laws prohibiting cell phone use at the wheel may have had little impact on accident rates.

Our Charlotte car accident attorneys understand that this recent study was one of the most intensive ever conducted. Researches equipped study participants with skin monitors, heart monitors, eye trackers, on-board sensors and video cameras. The one thing that these drivers didn’t have was a cell phone.

Drivers were split up into two groups: frequent cell phone users and rare cell phone users.

The study concluded that those who were considered to be frequent cell phone-using drivers typically made lane changes more often, spent more of their time in the left-hand lane, slammed on the brakes harder and accelerated faster. Drivers that were more likely to be on the phone behind the wheel were more likely to engage in these dangerous driving habits more often than others.

“These are not ‘oh-my-god’ differences,” says study leader Bryan Reimer with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. “They are subtle clues indicative of more aggressive driving.”

Reimer says that it’s these behaviors that increase a driver’s risks for an accident. He says that it’s clear that cell phones contribute to this increase too, but it’s the drivers driving habits that are ultimately going to get them into an accident, with or without a phone.

Experts say that this study provides a clear answer about why the number of injuries and deaths from traffic accidents have recently reached a historic lows even as cell phone usage has increased drastically.

In many states, laws banning cell phones and text messaging devices haven’t done much to reduce the number of accidents. Drivers need to spend a little more time and energy focusing on their driving habits. Driving is a privilege that’s being taken for granted and lives are being lost because of it. You always want to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Make sure you’re aware of the road laws and of other motorists around you. Practice safe, alert and cautious driving habits to help to make our roads safer for everyone.

Contact the Lee Law Offices if you have been injured in a traffic accident. We offer free and confidential consultations to discuss the rights and the cases of victims. Call 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Why Cell Phone Bans Don’t Work
, by Carol Cruzan Morton, American Association for the Advancement of Science

More Blog Entries:

North Carolina Tractor-Trailer Accidents Leaves Roads Covered in Booze, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, August 21, 2012

Distracted Driving in Rock Hill: “It Can Wait” Targeting Texting Behind Wheel, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, August 20, 2012

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