Cell phone safety would seem largely a matter of common sense. Pay attention, watch the road and you’ll arrive safely.
But researchers who have been studying cell phone-related accidents since the 1990s say there are some surprising ways in which wireless phones endanger drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
For example, the simple act of talking on a cell phone actually decreases the quality of visual information received and processed by the brain. Talk more and you see less!
State legislators are increasingly mandating hands-free cell phone use for drivers. Hands-free devices such as Bluetooth headphones can prevent accidents and save lives, but motorists need to be aware of how these cell phone accessories change the dynamics of driving and talking.
Handsfreeinfo.com has rounded up some leading cell phone safety tips provided by traffic researchers and public safety groups. Here are 15 of the best:
Keep calls short: Drivers increasingly lose focus during lengthy cell phone calls, research shows. If the conversation lasts more than 5 minutes, hang up and call back once you’ve parked.
Get to know your phone: Fumbling through a cell phone’s menus while on the road can be extremely dangerous. Practice speed-dialing, redialing and routing calls to voice mail.
Compensate: Some studies equate cell phone driving with drunken driving. Others cite “instant aging” — that a 20-year-old’s reaction times are reduced to those of a 70-year-old’s. A University of Utah study found that when 18- to 25-year-olds were placed in a driving simulator and talked on a cellular phone, they reacted to brake lights from a car in front of them as slowly as 65- to 74-year-olds who were not using a cell phone. These are controversial findings, but everyone agrees that cell phone use impairs driving ability. Be aware that you’re not operating the motor vehicle at 100% of your ability. Compensate with extra caution.
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