Numerous safety campaigns have worked to get the message out that distracted driving is a deadly problem. Whether people are getting that message is unclear. A new study has shown that cellphone use among drivers is increasing rapidly. According to the study conducted by the California Office of Traffic Safety and UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center, 39 percent more drivers are using cellphones while driving than last year.
Distracted driving is dangerous. Virtually every study conducted has concluded the same thing. Hands-free devices do little to improve the issue. It is not possible to talk on a cellphone without sacrificing your ability to drive safely. Assuming people understand this, why is phone use by drivers on the rise?
According to a former state senator, the problem is that the penalties for distracted driving are too mild, enforcement is not a priority and the message has not been thoroughly reinforced through education. That state senator was a primary advocate for the law which allows drivers to use no-hands devices. The impact of that law is unclear, but it is inarguable that the penalties are mild. The base fine for this form of distracted driving is $20 and such citations do not count as points against a driver’s license.
The study found that nearly 10 percent of drivers use cellphones while driving. Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that driver inattention is a factor in four out of five vehicle crashes. Cellphones are far from the only cause of inattentive driving, but they are a growing one.
Source: Contra Costa Times, “California’s distracted drivers more common this year, state says,” by Andrew McGall, 14 July 2015