Thursday, June 10, 2010
Prevent Accidents: Hang up the Phone!
This week a perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine encouraged doctors to ask their patients about driving habits- and not simply about driving home after having wine with dinner. The issue here is all about texting or talking on cell phones while you are driving. Oh sure, you ONLY check your texts/emails when you are stopped at a light, right? Well, maybe if the traffic is really slow…What about simply talking on the phone- is that really a problem?
We know that driving while distracted by a phone conversation or texting is similar to driving while intoxicated. Both situations can cause you to react more slowly when an unexpected driving hazard emerges, or perhaps to never see the hazard until it’s too late. More and more studies are showing the dangers inherent with this distraction, and the hands-free phones do not appear to offer much (if any) improvement. There are more document accidents from talking on the phone than from texting, but this is likely due to the widespread use of cell phones (compared with texting.)
When teens are learning to drive, they are encouraged to put their phones in their backpacks or purses, and then place those items in the back seat. I believe we should all follow that advice. Move it to the trunk if you need to, but remove the temptation!
BOTTOM LINE: To quote a rude but accurate bumper sticker, “Shut up and DRIVE!”