Car accidents can be caused by a number of things. Some accidents happen because the roads are dangerous or have not been properly maintained. Other times they occur because one of the drivers was under the influence behind the wheel. But recently, many accidents are happening because the drivers are distracted.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, an alarming number of car accidents occur because drivers are using their cell phones. There were over 24,000 injuries and fatalities reported last year because drivers were using their cell phones, though officials believe the actual number is much higher.
There are many different ways that a driver can be distracted behind the wheel. Some drivers eat while they are on the road, which can prove to be disastrous if they accidentally spill a hot dish on themselves. Others will use their time in the car to get ready for the day, applying make-up in their rear view mirror.
As we've previously mentioned, using the phone while driving is a big distraction and can cause car crashes. When on a phone call, a driver's attention is diverted from the road and refocused on the conversation they are having. Texting can be even worse, as drivers usually have to look down or focus on the phone instead of watching as they drive.
Preventing Texting and Driving
In response to the high number of accident injuries and fatalities related to cell phone usage, many states have passed laws that make it illegal to talk on the phone or text while you are driving. Penalties can be fines of up to $400 for getting caught driving while on the phone.
There have also been recent developments in technology that will disable a cell phone while the car is in operation. One product uses a GPS navigation system to determine when the phone is moving and will shut it down if it's travelling a certain speed. Another product being installed on certain vehicle models mutes the cell phone and forwards calls and texts so that the driver can check it at a safer time. This type of technology could prevent distracted driving, at least when it comes to cell phones, and as a result decrease the number of related accidents.
Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel online, "Texting drivers may have to hang it up," John Schmid, 14 November 2010